Sheldon Adelson Tried to Keep It A Secret, but His Own Reporters Cracked the Story
Sheldon Adelson ownership
When the paper was sold in 2015, it was initially unclear who the buyer was. The purchaser was a limited liability company, News + Media Capital Group LLC, and the only name listed on the documents was Michael Schroeder, a publisher of four small regional newspapers in Connecticut. At a December 10 staff meeting informing the Review-Journal staff that the paper had been sold, Schroeder was introduced as the manager. He refused to say who the owners of News + Media were, saying that employees should "focus on [their] jobs...and don't worry about who [the owners] are."
Jason Taylor, the Review-Journal's publisher, said only that the ownership included "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. There were widespread rumors that the primary buyer was Sheldon Adelson, and a week later three Review-Journal reporters confirmed that the purchase had been orchestrated by Adelson's son-in-law Patrick Dumont on Adelson's behalf.
A month before the new owner was revealed, three reporters at the newspaper received an assignment from corporate management: Spend two weeks monitoring the activity of three Clark County judges. One of the judges was District Judge Elizabeth Gonzalez, who was hearing a long-running wrongful termination lawsuit filed against Adelson and his company, a lawsuit alleging that Adelson's Macao casino, Sands Macao, was connected to the Chinese Triads.
In January a set of editorial principles were drawn up and publicized to ensure the newspaper's independence and to deal with possible conflicts of interest involving Adelson's ownership. In February Craig Moon, a veteran of the Gannett organization, was announced as the new publisher and promptly withdrew those principles from publication. He also began to personally review, edit, and sometimes kill stories about an Adelson-promoted proposal for the future Las Vegas Raiders football stadium. In the months since, reporters say that stories about Adelson, and particularly about an ongoing lawsuit involving his business dealings in Macau, have been heavily edited by top management.
The new ownership triggered numerous departures. On December 23 the paper's editor Mike Hengel stepped down in a "voluntary buyout". Many reporters and editors left the newspaper citing "curtailed editorial freedom, murky business dealings and unethical managers." Longtime columnist John L. Smith resigned after he was told he could no longer write anything about Adelson, a frequent focus of his reporting up till then. Within six months, all three of the reporters who broke the story of Adelson's ownership had left the paper.