MEDIA
12/13/2015 06:50 pm ET Updated Dec 14, 2015

Las Vegas Review-Journal Staffers Want To Know Who Owns Their Newspaper

"I don't know who I'm working for."

NEW YORK -- Las Vegas Review-Journal staffers have a simple question for their new owner: Who are you?

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. 

In addition to the secret ownership arrangement, industry watchers have also been shocked by the sale price.

News + Media Capital Group LLC paid $140 million for the Review-Journal and several smaller Nevada publications. That's $38 million more than the Review-Journal and a significantly larger media portfolio was sold for just nine months ago -- a peculiar development in a struggling industry. 

During a Friday meeting with publisher Jason Taylor, staffers didn't receive any timetable as to when the new owner may be revealed, according to a newsroom source. 

Michael Schroeder, a Connecticut-based publishing executive who introduced himself to Review-Journal staff last week as manager of the News + Media Capital Group, wouldn't discuss the ownership situation when reached Monday. “I have absolutely no comment,” he told HuffPost.

The new owner's decision has put Review-Journal staffers in a tough spot. They could inadvertently create conflicts of interests by reporting on the undisclosed backers of their businesses. And Review-Journal reporters seeking more openness from government and the business community will have to contend with questions about lack of transparency in their own shop. 

In addition, there's increasing uncertainty about what the Review-Journal can, and cannot, report about itself. 

Taylor, the paper's publisher, stopped the presses Thursday night to remove some noteworthy quotes from the paper's story on the sale, as The Huffington Post reported Saturday. For instance, the edited version no longer included Review-Journal editor Michael Hengel asking who is behind the company and what are their expectations.

Eric Hartley, who covers Clark County for the paper, tweeted the HuffPost story on Saturday night and wrote, "This is simply wrong." 

On Sunday, education reporter Neal Morton tweeted an image of Friday's print edition of the Review-Journal, which included Hengel's quotes, along with a screenshot of the sale article on the paper's website, where they had been removed. 

The baffling circumstances surrounding the sale of the Review-Journal have inevitably led to speculation about who may have bought the paper and why. 

Jon Ralston, a prominent political journalist in Nevada, mentioned Sunday on CNN's "Reliable Sources" that there's currently speculation around billionaire casino mogul and Republican donor Sheldon Adelson. (An Adelson representative has not responded to HuffPost's requests for comment since Friday). 

"The pressure's going to be so enormous on this newspaper to reveal who its owners are that I eventually think it will have to come out," Ralston said. 

This article was updated Monday with Schroeder's response. 

Correction: A previous version of this article misspelled the last name of a capital bureau reporter. It is Whaley, not Wiley. 

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