Everybody assumed that when casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson bought the Las Vegas newspaper two years ago for an obscene $140 million — $38 million more than the previous owner had paid nine months earlier — that he intended to use the paper to spread more of his conservative political views. After all, he was spending millions of his gambling-generated assets to support conservative candidates for public office.
Apparently, profit is more important than proselytizing.
Without fanfare and apparently without notice, the Review-Journal recently cut its opinion pages on Sundays from six pages to four and on Wednesdays and Fridays to one page instead of two. This follows what appears to be the purchase of thinner newsprint — possibly down from 32-pound stock to 30-pound, would be an educated guess — as the price of newsprint has increased steadily recently and the threat of tariffs on Canadian paper has been raised.
Buoying this supposition is the fact that since the middle of January, the Las Vegas Sun insert has been running a daily front page announcement saying that it is now charging for access to its online content. The putative editor of the alleged newspaper states that this is because, under the joint operating agreement that requires the Sun to be inserted in the morning paper, the Sun gets a percentage of the R-J’s profits, but there are no profits.
“The current management of the Review-Journal plunged the newspaper into a loss immediately after purchasing the newspaper in 2015. To date, the Review-Journal’s management continues to run a money-losing newspaper,” he writes every day. “We hope they find a way to turn the R-J around in the face of ongoing revenue and circulation decline.”
The R-J bid for that profitability appears to be thinner paper and fewer pages, though considerably more savings could be netted by dropping the 10- to six-page, ad-free Sun insert.
The morning paper has already made a symbolic gesture in that direction. For years the Sun insert has been included in the online electronic replica, dubbed the eEdition, of the printed paper, but two weeks after the Sun started running its daily notice about charging for online content the eEdition dropped the Sun. Petty payback perhaps? Portent of things to come?