The Connecticut newspaper publisher at the center of a national media-ethics firestorm is no longer managing the Las Vegas Review-Journal or its parent company.
Michael Edward Schroeder has left his position as manager of the Review-Journal, as well as manager of News + Media Capital Group LLC, the Delaware company that bought the RJ for $140 million on Dec. 10.
Schroeder, who was introduced to RJ staffers as the newspaper's new "manager" the day the sale closed, "will have no role whatsoever with regard to the paper," said Mark Fabiani, a spokesman for the family of Sheldon Adelson, which owns News + Media.
Fabiani said he couldn't say "exactly when" Schroeder left, but he said he believed it was around Dec. 28 — about a week after the RJ published a report looking into Schroeder's role in a story that questioned the fairness of a Las Vegas judge presiding over an Adelson case.
Now that Sheldon Adelson's family owns the Las Vegas Review-Journal, how should the newspaper handle stories that involve Adelson?
Or to ask the question another way: How can and should the paper cover itself?
A meeting that was held on Monday attempted to tackle those questions, but left editors feeling frustrated.
Management brought in Dave Butler, the executive editor of the Providence Journal, to "help establish some guidelines." The Review-Journal and the Providence Journal are operated by the same company but owned by separate groups.
According to features editor Stephanie Grimes, who live-tweeted the meeting, Butler expressed concern about the appearance that reporters are "out to get our owner."
"How often do we need to mention the owners?" he asked, before suggesting that disclosures won't be necessary down the road because readers will already know about Adelson's ownership.
Grimes tweeted in response, "I don't think you'll find another soul in the room who thinks we should stop disclosing conflicts of interest at some arbitrary future point."
First, the Review-Journal reported that Michael Schroeder of Connecticut, the bumbling cutout figure who was named “manager” of the newspaper when the sale to Adelson was first announced, will have no role from here on. To observe that Schroeder has zero credibility in the news business would not be fair, because the actual figure is less than that. He appears to be a plagiarist as well as a toady for Adelson, and he has been unwilling to assume any responsibility for his idiotic actions, or even acknowledge that they were his.
Which gets to another thing that happened today. Ken Doctor, a former newspaper journalist who has become a well-sourced writer on the media business and analyst of the newspaper industry’s faltering economics, came out with a column in which he says that GateHouse executives realize they’re in deep trouble. Doctor writes:
“Executives at [Gatehouse] can be accurately described as “horrified” — thankfully and properly — by the many missteps involved in the Adelson sale. Company leadership’s first instinct was to hire a crisis management expert. Now it has come to realize that the problem of Las Vegas could more widely affect the view of whole company. The company must now assert its editorial principles overall, Gatehouse management has come to believe.”
That was the message to the newsroom when editors and reporters insisted on knowing who they were working for. Reporters were told to "do their job." That was a bad decree. They did. From CNN:
The story's first sentence is a doozy: "The son-in-law of billionaire casino owner Sheldon Adelson arranged the $140 million purchase of the Las Vegas Review-Journal on Adelson's behalf, sources confirmed Wednesday."
"Welp, we DID focus on our jobs," Jennifer Robison tweeted Wednesday night. "Bad advice for him."
Robison and two other journalists, James DeHaven and Howard Stutz, co-bylined Wednesday's 1,800-word story.
Earlier in the day, Fortune magazine identified Adelson as the mystery owner. Then CNNMoney published portions of my conversation with Adelson from Tuesday, when the mogul said he has "no personal interest" in the paper.
It was the Review-Journal, at the end of a harrowing day, that definitively sorted everything out. Dumont "put together the deal at the behest of his father-in-law," the reporters wrote, quoting a "source close to the Adelsons" who said Dumont "handles all the investments for the family."
The arts getting whacked is always a warning shot sometime may be going down.
Today, the R-J website has a statement from the Adelson family. In part it reads:
Today, we are proud to announce that the Adelson family has purchased the Las Vegas Review-Journal through a wholly-owned fund, as both a financial investment as well as an investment in the future of the Las Vegas community.
We understand the desire of the hard-working staff at the R-J and others in the community to know the identity of the papers new owners, and it was always our intention to publicly announce our ownership of the R-J.
This week, with each of the Republican candidates for president and the national media descending on Las Vegas for the year’s final debate, we did not want an announcement to distract from the important role Nevada continues to play in the 2016 presidential election.
The big irony may still be coming. Can a newspaper uncovering suspicious ownership be nominated for a Pulitzer?