The journalistic community is in a frenzy to determine who is behind the company that purchased the Las Vegas Review Journal less than a week ago, not the least of whom are reporters that work for the Las Vegas newspaper. Readers, watchdog groups, and reporters want the money behind the purchase to reveal itself.
Now the 7,500 members strong Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) based in Indiana is putting their weight behind the question. The SPJ is known for promoting the First Amendment and ethics in journalism and says there is no excuse for News + Media Capital Group LLC to keep its ownership secret. The new owners are a Delaware corporation financed by “undisclosed financial backers with expertise in the media industry.” Delaware corporations do not have to disclose ownership publicly.
Nobody is talking including the Review-Journal Publisher, the News + Media manager, nor the newspaper’s former owners, GateHouse Media.
The newspaper was purchased for $140 million, nearly $40 million more than its entire media group, including 7 other daily newspapers was sold for in March.
CNN, the New York Times, the LA Times ,and several other major media outlets have speculated that Las Vegas and Macau billionaire Sheldon Adelson, chairman and CEO of Las Vegas Sands Corp. is behind the maneuver. Adelson has not commented.
The LVRJ reports that U.S. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid told reporters in Washington Tuesday that he suspects, but has no evidence, that the secretive buyer is indeed Adelson.
Billionaire industrialists and political donors Charles and David Koch have denied involvement as has Brian Greenspun, owner of the Las Vegas Sun newspaper.
At the core of the matter is whether reporters for the LVRJ can disclose conflicts of interest if they are reporting on matters that involve investors in the company that signs their paychecks. This raises deep ethical issues and goes against the Journalist’s Creed of committing to the public trust and a commitment to transparency and accountability.
Reporters at the Las Vegas Review Journal and elsewhere are digging deep, drawing corollaries, and connecting dots to find out who is behind the purchase and will not rest until a case is built and admittance or denials eliminate all possibilities except the answer. Occam’s Razor states that among competing hypotheses, the one with the fewest assumptions should be selected, but journalists don’t deal in suppositions. So far, a continually building body of good evidence points toward Adelson. As of press time there has not even been a non-denial denial.