Sun ‘newspaper’ flips off print subscribers again

Just as it did Monday, the Sun print edition inserted in the morning newspaper was mostly wire service copy. There was a report by a retired Reno political journalist about what was said on a television show last week about the Bunkerville standoff. That story appeared on the Sun’s website three days ago.

There also was a repeat of the full page graphic by the Sun staff telling people how to sign up for ObabaCare.

None of the original Sun staff stories that appeared on the Sun website Monday made it into print. Nor did the Sun staff stories that appear online today — about gun violence in Las Vegas since the Oct. 1 Mandalay Bay massacre, about a Golden Knights coach, about the Raiders breaking ground for a new stadium, about an art project in the median of a street, about a House of Blues performer and the arrest of a former public school teaching assistant.

The Sun exists as a print insert only because of a 1989 joint operating agreement with the Review-Journal under an exemption to anti-monopoly law, called the Newspaper Preservation Act. That law was intended to preserve media “voices” and journalistic competition in communities because so many newspaper were going out of business. The Sun is holding up its end of the deal, a deal that does not sunset until 2040.

But it has Dilbert:

 

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Sun ‘newspaper’ editor waves middle finger at print subscribers

What an in-your-face insult to the people who pay the bills!

As per usual the third section of the morning newspaper today is the Las Vegas Sun. As per usual for a weekday it is eight pages of mostly New York Times wire service copy. The front page has three such stories and there are several more inside, including an editorial. There are three letters to the editor from Nevadans and the back page is a graphic informing people how to sign up for ObamaCare, putatively created by the Sun “staff.”

The Sun has been in a joint operating agreement with the Review-Journal since 1989 under the Newspaper Preservation Act, which was intended to allow newspapers to combine expensive and duplicative business function yet maintain competitive news “voices.” The agreement, which has been subject to litigation over the years, does not expire until 2040. The Sun gets paid to provide the morning paper readers with that “competitive” news and opinion content.

Today the paid print subscribers got an infographic from the Sun that really had no local content.

Online, for free, however, the Sun website carries a Sun staff-generated editorial about gun control, a couple of local sports stories, a local entertainment piece about Celine Dion, a story about layoffs at the Mandalay Bay since the Oct. 1 shooting, a story about tattoos commemorating that shooting and a tale about a local restaurant. None appear in print for the paying reader.

Doesn’t sound like the editor of the Sun is putting any effort into making that joint operating agreement profitable, but rather is using the other paper’s resources to compete for online clicks.

The Nevada Press Association lists the circulation of the Review-Journal — and by default the Sun — as 175,841 daily. The only problem is that figure is from 2009, and that was somewhat inflated. According to a Fox News account that year, the Las Vegas newspaper grew in circulation from the previous year by 11,000 copies because the circulation auditing firm changed the rules to allow electronic online replica copies to count as paid circulation.

The weekday sales of print copies actually fell by 12,000 copies. At the time the paper subscription renewals included the electronic version in the price with an opt-out in fine print.

Who knows what the actual print circulation is eight years later.

 

Dueling columnists could be entertaining, except …

Epithets at 10 paces. Turn and fire.

First, in the pages of the Las Vegas Review-Journal columnist Wayne Allyn Root took issue with MGM’s CEO Jim Murren telling his employees that the firm would match any donations they decided to make to certain groups that he apparently identified as civil rights organizations. In a letter to employees Murren noted recent violence in Charlottesville and Barcelona and stated, “In the midst of this uncertainty, I want to affirm a clear-eyed, concrete view of the company in which you have chosen to invest your career, because on the question of human rights, MGM Resorts takes and unequivocal position: The protection of human dignity, demonstrated in the form of tolerance and respect for all people, is the core of our identity. We strive to create workplaces and entertainment spaces that are welcoming, open and respectful to all kinds of people, regardless of disability, age, gender, race, ethnicity, religious preference, gender identity or sexual orientation.” (His bold face and italics.)

He listed the groups for which the company would match donations as Southern Poverty Law Center, NAACP, ADL, Council on American Islamic Relations and others.

Root took issue with the doling out of shareholder funds to liberal groups in general but especially with the Southern Poverty Law Center, which is known for tossing out hate group labels like trinkets at a Mardi Gras parade, and the Council on American Islamic Relation, which has been pegged as the clean-faced front for Hamas.

Root blasted, “Jim Murren has gone too far. And he’s put MGM’s board, shareholders and employees in a terrible position because of his extreme, radical, reckless decisions” — without bothering to append the usual disclaimer about the newspaper’s owner, Sheldon Adelson, being both a business competitor with MGM and frequent political opponent of Murren.

Today, the putative editor of the insert inside the Review-Journal filled that gap with a diatribe. Brian Greenspun said of Root’s Thursday missive:

That day, he went after one of Sheldon’s biggest, most forward-thinking and most responsible competitors in the gaming industry. It is exactly what the gaming industry feared might happen when the news — as secret as the Adelson family tried to keep it — broke that one of the GOP’s wealthiest donors had purchased one of the two largest newspapers in Nevada. The Las Vegas Sun is the other “largest” newspaper in Nevada.

I don’t know if Sheldon knows what Root writes from one day to the next, but he should be very careful about what his minions publish in and under his name. Root and publisher Craig Moon certainly know what would please Sheldon.

Not only are Adelson and Murren competitors on the Strip but also in Macau and perhaps in Japan in the future.

Adelson is a huge Republican donor, while Murren was a card-carrying Republican for Reid and a Hillary Clinton supporter.

A couple of years ago Adelson tore into MGM and Caesars for driving down the price of rooms on the Strip and costing his Sands corporation money. Adelson personally attacked Murren for supporting a convention center expansion, which competes with Adelson’s convention center, over a new football stadium.

But perhaps the funniest thing in Greenspun’s screed was this line:

Which reminds me of one of the first lessons in newspaper publishing I learned from my father, Hank Greenspun, many decades ago — publishers have profound responsibilities to the public interest and it must always be placed before personal interest.

Hank Greenspan was notorious for pulling his newspaper like a dueling pistol to attack business competitors and political foes and to support his friends. He was virulently critical of an FBI agent who conducted a sting on certain politicians and he conducted a campaign to discredit a competitor in the cable television business.

Greenspan concludes his spiel, “Come on, Review-Journal, publish your paper in the community interest. You and your owners should be better than this.”

A little dueling between newspaper columnists could be entertaining — if they both weren’t such clowns.

Newspaper fails to uncover name of ‘mystery’ gaming licensee

Sheldon Adelson, owner of casinos and newspaper. (Reuters pix via NY Times)

Often the most significant aspect of a news story is what it doesn’t report.

The morning newspaper today reports that Democratic Assemblywoman Maggie Carlton of Las Vegas is seeking to conduct a hearing on a surreptitious recording made by Gaming Control Board Chairman A.G. Burnett of a conversation with Attorney General Adam Laxalt concerning “a certain licensee” — in other words, a casino owner.

Near the end, the news account informs readers that neither Carlton nor the AG’s office would name that “certain licensee.”

Now who on earth could that “certain licensee” be?

Back in February an online news operation called The Nevada Independent reported that Burnett had secretly recorded a meeting with Laxalt in which the AG asked that the gaming board file an affidavit in a civil lawsuit in Las Vegas demanding that certain records concerning the Las Vegas Sands be kept confidential. The Sands is owned by Sheldon Adelson, whose family owns the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Adelson is also a major contributor to Laxalt’s political campaigns.

The Nevada Independent is funded by contributions, a large portion of which come from Sands competitors, and is headed up by former Review-Journal, Las Vegas Sun and television commentator Jon Ralston.

Both the Independent and Battle Born Media newspaper sought a copy of the recording under the state public records law but were turned down. “Even if the requested material was a public record,” the gaming board custodian stated, “it is declared confidential and privileged by law and, therefore, exempt from disclosure.”

Laxalt issued a statement at the time in an attempt to explain his meeting with Burnett on behalf of Adleson, “The Attorney General’s Office was approached by the Sands Corporation asking us to file an amicus brief about NRS 463 — a statute that protects the confidentiality of documents submitted to the Gaming Control Board. I’ve made it a practice to personally advise and meet with my clients on a regular basis. As a Nevada statewide elected official, I also meet with constituents all the time on issues that are important to the State and our clients.”

In the story first filed online Tuesday evening, the morning paper quoted Carlton as saying in a statement, “Last week I issued a subpoena for information regarding actions Attorney General Laxalt took to interfere with the Gaming Control Board’s oversight of a certain licensee. … The information is unsettling and warrants a hearing. We will work with the Chairman of the Gaming Control Board to bring more light to this situation.”

At about 4 a.m. today The Nevada Independent, which bills itself in social media as @TheNVIndy, posted a lengthy story recapping its previous reporting on the topic and attaching a 14-page notarized affidavit filed by Burnett on April 27. Why he created the affidavit is unclear.

That affidavit explained for the first time why Burnett, who was appointed by Gov. Brian Sandoval, decided to record the conversation. “Further, because said licensee had in recent months been part of the purchase of the Las Vegas Review-Journal, and as previously noted, there were news articles implying that agents or employees of the newspaper had sent reporters around to monitor particular judges, including the judge presiding over the wrongful termination case, I was concerned reporters might be monitoring me, as well.”

Burnett also said, “I was shocked and in disbelief due to the nature of these unusual circumstances. I was also extremely worried about what the conversation might entail. Based on my knowledge of Nevada statutes, including past discussions with federal authorities, I determined it was in my best interest, and those of the state and the GCB, to record the upcoming oral conversation.”

Burnett reportedly turned over a copy of the recording to the FBI, which found no criminal behavior.

The Independent reported that Laxalt sent this statement to the news outlet: “Today’s news proves the point — Nevada democratic (sic) politicians will stop at nothing — including twisting and politicizing a routine action that previous attorneys general, including Catherine Cortez Masto, have taken. … We look forward to exposing this for what it is: a political attack designed to distract from the Democrats’ radical agenda that harms Nevada’s working families.”

Laxalt is said to be planning to run for governor. In March the Sun reported that Democrats filed public records request seeking copies of Laxalt’s official communications with Adelson and his representatives. The Sun story also mentioned the secretly recorded conversation that remains a mystery to the newspaper into which it is inserted.

The Sun reported, “Laxalt has faced criticism over an April 2016 meeting with Gaming Control Board Chairman A.G. Burnett. Democrats have asked the FBI to release any audio recordings and documents related to the case and called for a state ethics investigation, saying Laxalt was attempting to push Burnett into supporting Adelson in a lawsuit.”

A year ago the Gaming Control Board fined the Sands $2 million for failing to maintain the reputation of the gaming industry. This was based on the company settling with the Securities and Exchange Commission for a $9 million civil penalty, which follow on a $47.4 million settlement with Treasury a couple of year earlier.

 

For lack of a copyeditor a bear was killed

This AP story is all over the internet today:

“LAS VEGAS (AP) — A Nevada man is expected to return to court in Las Vegas next week in a grizzly 2011 murder case after the state Supreme Court upheld a lower court’s ruling that his earlier guilty plea was illegal.”

A murder can be grisly or horrifying, but a grizzly is a type of brown bear.

A grizzly bear in Yellowstone. (NatGeo pix)

A grizzly bear in Yellowstone. (NatGeo pix)

 

Judge again slaps down PERS for trying to hide retirement records from the public

A Carson City judge has slapped down the Nevada Public Employees’ Retirement System for refusing to release the names and pensions of 57,000 public retirees under the state public records law, according to The AP.

The Nevada Policy Research Institute sued PERS back in July for again refusing to release those records. The Reno newspaper successfully sued for those records in 2013.

District Judge James Wilson ruled Tuesday that the PERS claim that making these names public would subject the retirees to cybercrime was “hypothetical and speculative.”

After the 2013 ruling, PERS altered the way it kept records, claiming it only had records filed by using Social Security numbers, which are “non-disclosable” by law.

”By replacing names with ‘non-disclosable’ social security numbers in its actuarial record-keeping documents, PERS has attempted to circumvent the 2013 ruling of the Nevada Supreme Court requiring disclosure,” explained Joseph Becker, the director of NPRI’s Center for Justice and Constitutional Litigation at the time of the suit.

In 2015 NPRI requested retirement records to include on its TransparentNevada.com website — a free resource for public-sector administrators and taxpayers interested in learning about the cost of public sector compensation.

The lawsuit itself argued the information was clearly subject to the public records law, which was intended to “foster democratic principles by providing members of the public with access to inspect and copy public books and records.”
Additionally, the suit noted that in 2015 state Supreme Court ruled: “When an agency has a computer program that can readily compile the requested information, the agency is not excused from its duty to produce and disclose that information.

“Despite having the clear ability to provide the public with useful and complete records, PERS has deliberately subverted transparency by altering its record keeping, and refusing repeated requests for full disclosure,” NPRI and CJCL noted at the time.

More fawning over Harry in the morning paper

The Reid farewell tour continues. (R-J photo)

The Reid farewell tour continues. (R-J photo)

The paean to the prince of political payoffs and paybacks continues apace after more than seven pages were devoted in the paper delivered in Sunday driveways to the retirement of Harry Reid after three decades in the Senate.

Today’s piece occupies a majority of the front page and an entire inside page covering his various dabbles into local businesses.

It opens with Reid making phone calls to various banks in 2009 when it looked like the MGM construction of CityCenter was going to be shut down due to the recession. The tale doesn’t say what Reid said to those banks who came to the table and negotiated to allow construction to continue.

Later the story hints at what he might’ve said when he recounts what happened when he browbeat a Nevada power company into halting plans to build new job-creating coal-fired power plants and some businesses started campaigning against him.

 

“But I called some of them — most of those places were owned by hedge funds and equity firms — and I called whoever they were and I said, ‘You go ahead and do this, but you’re going to pay big time because I’m going to do everything I can to try to mess with your businesses,’” he proudly told the reporter. “And they quit, every one of them, quit, withdrew. So my threats worked. But I was serious about that.”

He has been said to have used similar tactics in the past against against certain bankers who also owned businesses in Nevada.

In the 2010 election campaign MGM’s CEO Jim Murren was on the list of Republicans for Reid.

CityCenter (R-J photo)

CityCenter (R-J photo)