December 16, 2015

Last week, news broke that the Las Vegas Review-Journal had been sold to a mystery buyer cloaked in a newly-minted LLC that couldn't be traced to an actual person.

Jay Rosen had plenty to say about it, as did others, including reporters at the paper itself. As a sign of the future, some of the questions they had written in an article about the paper's ownership change were ordered to be removed by the publisher.

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.

Leave it to Fortune to get down to the answer.

For nearly a week, the media and political worlds have been wondering who paid $140 million to purchase Nevada’s largest daily newspaper, The Las Vegas Review-Journal. The primary buyer had taken great pains to remain anonymous, but Fortune has learned from multiple sources familiar with the situation that it is Sheldon Adelson, chairman and CEO of casino operator Las Vegas Sands Corp.

Fortune's writer seems mystified by Adelson's shyness about owning the paper. I'm not.

What remains unclear is why Adelson has refused to come forward. Clearly this isn’t a vanity play, and it’s also hard to imagine it as a financial investment (particularly given the steep price tag). What that leaves is political influence, particularly in a swing state like Nevada. That said, however, it would seem difficult to direct editorial coverage when the actual editorial writers are in the dark as to who signs their paychecks.

If you're an editorial writer and your publisher removes or changes the nature of that editorial with a nice pat on the back, I think you can be fairly certain your job is in jeopardy if you write things the owner doesn't like. That's not all that difficult to imagine, is it?

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