from the ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ dept
The last time we wrote about the Las Vegas Review-Journal — the largest newspaper in Nevada — it was owned by Stephens Media and was making headlines for using the LVRJ as a copyright troll, pretending to sell its copyrights to a company called Righthaven. That scam fell apart when it was discovered that Righthaven didn’t really own the copyrights it was suing over. Since then, the LVRJ has changed hands a couple times. Stephens Media sold the paper to New Media Investment Group earlier this year. And then, last week, it was announced that “New Media Investment Group” had sold the newspaper to News + Media Capital Group LLC, for $140 million. News + Media Capital Group LLC is a brand new Delaware-based company, and no one has the slightest clue who they are, including all the folks working for the LVRJ.
Who was willing to buy remains a secret.
News + Media manager Michael Schroeder has declined to disclose the company’s investors, as has Las Vegas Review-Journal Publisher Jason Taylor.
In discussions with employees, Taylor has said only that News + Media has multiple owner/investors, that some are from Las Vegas, and that in face-to-face meetings he has been assured that the group will not meddle in the newspaper’s editorial content.
As you might imagine, that has some of the folks working there more than a bit uncomfortable:
Several staffers at the Review-Journal, the largest media outlet in Nevada, have questioned their new owner’s decision to remain secret, an unusual arrangement that’s stunned not only the newsroom, but journalists nationwide.
Sean Whaley, a capital bureau reporter based in Carson City, tweeted Saturday night that he was “offended & embarrassed” that the paper’s new owner — News + Media Capital Group LLC — has not disclosed its financial backers since announcing Thursday night that it had acquired the paper.
And, contrary to the claims that these new mysterious owners won’t meddle in the editorial… there is some evidence they already have:
The publisher of the Las Vegas Review-Journal removed quotes from a Thursday night article about the newspaper’s sale that questioned its new owner’s decision to remain anonymous, according to a newsroom source.
Around midnight Thursday, publisher Jason Taylor had editors remove a quote from Michael Schroeder, manager for News + Media Capital Group LLC, the undisclosed financial backers taking over the paper. In the original version, Schroeder, who also runs four community papers as president and CEO of Central Connecticut Publishing, was quoted telling Review-Journal staffers at a Thursday meeting that they shouldn’t worry about the identities of the owners.
The original article also included quotes from editor Michael Hengel expressing concerns about the secretive ownership arrangement.
There’s lots of speculation that the mysterious unnamed owners are looking to use the paper for political purposes, and the failure to name who they are only contributes to that fear.
The whole thing is just bizarre in general, and it wouldn’t surprise me to see reporters and staffers at the LVRJ consider looking for jobs elsewhere. While sometimes it seems like the question of who owns a newspaper gets overblown in the question of how that newspaper covers certain stories, at least the ownership is generally known to the public (and the people working there). Not having any information at all… is just weird.