Newspaper spat: Tit for tat

This is the scrappiest the Review-Journal and Sun have been in some time.

On Friday the morning paper published an editorial explaining why it was seeking a court ruling to end its Joint Operating Agreement with what now is a daily insert. It said, “We are asking a court to rule that the Sun has not met a contractual obligation to produce a high-quality metropolitan print newspaper.”

That day’s Sun had a column by a Nevada congresswoman, a feature on historic preservation, a local editorial and editorial cartoon, letters to the editor and a locally generated sports story about Big Ten football. The rest of the 8-page section was syndicated features and columns.

Today the morning paper came back with a news story about the court filing, repeating what was in the editorial but also quoting the paper’s lawyer, as well as a journalism prof on the demise of JOAs. The story concludes by reporting, “The Review-Journal filing is in response to a 2018 Sun complaint that raised concerns about the distribution of profits under the joint operating agreement and how the Sun is promoted in the joint newspaper.”

Meanwhile, back in the insert, there is an editorial under the headline: “The Sun refuses to kneel before Sheldon Adelson — and you should too.” It declares, “It is a desperate move and behind a tissue of dishonesty lies the real motive: the R-J longs to silence the Sun and be the only voice in daily newspapers in this community.”

Actually, as the R-J points out, the Sun would be free to keep printing and trying to sell its feeble content. The Sun’s website today has what appears to be eight locally produced items that do not appear in the printed product. The printed product seldom contains any breaking news.

The Sun screed claims it won the 2018 litigation over distribution of profits, saying, “This move also comes after the R-J lost a recent arbitration between the Sun and the R-J. Not only did the arbitrator reject the R-J’s predatory interpretation of the contract and adopted the Sun’s interpretation, but the arbitrator made an award to the Sun for the money the Review-Journal has wrongfully withheld from the Sun each year. Those are funds that support the Sun’s newsroom. The consequences of that ruling in favor of the Sun will be in effect for the next 20 years.”

The amount of the settlement is not mentioned and no news story about the end of the arbitration is to found anywhere.

The Sun piece accuses the R-J of trying to “monopolize the ideas of the day,” though the Sun prints a weekly tabloid and maintains a website with more content than it deigns to print and there are competing websites produced by the Nevada Independent and the Nevada Current, as well as a number of local online commenters and bloggers. Countless national publications are available for home delivery and online.

Why the Sun even protests is a head-scratcher.

In January 2018 Sun putative editor Brian Greenspun posted an online note telling readers they would start being charged for website usage because profits from the R-J had dried up. “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 wrote.

Under the JOA the Sun was to get a percentage of the profits of the R-J. If there are no profits …

Apparently the Sun dropped the paywall after getting few takers.





Morning paper seeks to jettison insert

Who didn’t see this coming?

According to a front page editorial in the Las Vegas newspaper, the paper has filed litigation seeking to terminate the Joint Operating Agreement (JOA) under which the Las Vegas Sun is printed as a separate 6- to 10-page section in the morning newspaper.

The editorial says the contract — which when first signed in 1989 had the Sun printed by the Review-Journal as an afternoon newspaper but was revised in 2005 to make the Sun an insert — obligates the two newspapers to “preserve the high standards of newspaper quality … consistent with United States metropolitan daily newspapers.” Instead, the editorial correctly describes the Sun’s print edition as a “stale combination of dated wire service stories and columns packaged around a couple of staff reports and photos that are sometimes a week old.”

The current JOA doesn’t expire for 20 years.

The problem is not so much quality as cost. Newsprint is not cheap and recent tariffs have made it more costly.

Back in 2013 the Sun’s putative editor Brian Greenspun filed an affidavit in court saying that in 2008, when the recession hit, the Sun’s share of profits from the R-J fell 90 percent to a meager $1.3 million a year.

In January 2018 Greenspun posted an online note telling readers they would start being charged for website usage because profits from the R-J had dried up. “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 wrote.

The R-J editorial accuses the Sun of neglecting its responsibility to produce a quality newspaper section. The Sun has been phoning it in for years.

The Newspaper Preservation Act of 1970 reads in part:

In the public interest of maintaining a newspaper press editorially and reportorially independent and competitive in all parts of the United States, it is hereby declared to be the public policy of the United States to preserve the publication of newspapers in any city, community, or metropolitan area where a joint operating arrangement has been heretofore entered into because of economic distress or is hereafter effected in accordance with the provisions of this chapter.

One question though: Where is the news story about the litigation?

R-J photo

Watch the morning newspaper disappear before your very eyes

The big squeeze is on at the morning newspaper here in town.

Today the paper not only dropped the TV page, which it had warned was coming, but it also dropped the entire Health section, instead slapping a page on the back of the B section. Today’s paper is 34 pages compared to 38 pages a week ago.

A little note on the cover of the paper explains this, in case you also missed it. The note says the Variety page, which includes crossword puzzles and advice columns, will be in the B sections now Monday through Saturday. Hmmmm. We wonder if that means the Tuesday and Thursday Life sections and the Wednesday Taste section will be disappearing, too. But it would be difficult to move those to the back of the B section, since that is where the former Business section was relegated to sometime ago.

A year ago the Sunday Viewpoints opinion section shrunk from six to four pages.

By the way, that warning about the TV page disappearing also noted that an eight-page edition of TV schedules will be included in Sunday Review-Journal editions sold at newsstands, but not included in the papers delivered to homes of people who, you know, actually still are willing to pay for subscriptions to the ever shrinking newspaper.

But don’t worry, that delightful 8-page section called the Sun, with its single local story and the occasional locally written, uber-liberal editorial, will still be there. The contract doesn’t expire until 2040.

This past year tariffs on Canadian newsprint caused the price to increase 30 to 35 percent.

All the news that’s fit to … not print?

On Friday afternoon the Review-Journal published online an article about a massive wind farm proposed for the Nevada-California border being rejected by the BLM.

The article has yet to appear in print. Not Saturday. Not Sunday.

Isn’t that something the Sun does all the time? Is the R-J becoming more like the Sun? Heaven forbid!

A sign marks the state border near where 220 wind turbines were proposed for construction. (R-J pix)



Sun takes cheap shot at owner of newspaper into which it is inserted

We do believe the Jewish owner of the Sun insert in the morning newspaper just called out the Jewish owner of that morning newspaper.

In an editorial about a spike in hate crimes for which it blames President Trump the Sun alleges:

For one, Trump’s Jewish financial backers must take responsibility for the president giving aid, comfort and recruiting material to white supremacists.

In backing Trump and his agenda, these donors are helping anti-Semitism thrive in America and putting Jews increasingly at risk by figuratively providing matches to light the torches of extremists.

Trump’s Jewish backers are engaging in self-interested, history-denying behavior — you’d have to imagine the NAACP funding the Ku Klux Klan to find something as perversely self-destructive.

The owner of the morning paper is the family of Sheldon and Miriam Adelson, who have given $113 million to GOP causes this election year. Trump is giving Miriam the Presidential Medal of Freedom on Friday.

The Sun — which is owned by the family of Brian Greenspun, who is CEO, publisher and editor — editorially links Trump’s so-called embrace of nationalism with “white supremacy” and sees a causality link between that and a rise in hate crimes, especially anti-Semitic ones, such as the mass shooting at a synagogue in the Pittsburgh area.

It further pokes Adelson in the eye by saying, “Americans won’t stand for this corrosion of our values, as they showed during this year’s midterm referendum on Trump. That was particularly true in Nevada, where candidates who aligned themselves with Trump got destroyed in the balloting in favor of those calling for an end to the administration’s divisive politics.”

Adelson’s morning newspaper editorially endorsed virtually every one of those losing candidates and Adelson generously contributed to many of them.

The Sun is inserted into the morning paper under a joint operating agreement (JOA) that began in 1990 and runs through 2040. The Newspaper Preservation Act allows competing newspapers to skirt anti-trust law and combine operations if one of them is about to go out of business, which the Sun was at the time.

The Sun in the past has sued the morning paper disputing the amount of money it received under the agreement. That went to private arbitration. In January the Sun started charging for access to online content, saying it was no longer getting a share of profits from the JOA because there are no profits.

We wonder how much longer this pissing match can continue.


Call for toning down rhetoric delivered with over-the-top rancor

Today’s front page editorial in the Sun has to be one of the most self-contradictory, self-defeating, tone-deaf polemics ever penned by the self-righteous editorialists at the Sun. And that is up against some stiff competition.

Under the headline, “Time for voters, Trump’s financiers to tone down his divisive behavior,” the editorial calls President Trump an animal and says, ” He is likely not bright enough to understand the big issues involved, but he most definitely understands self-interest.”

Additionally, Trump, his voters and financial backers are called racists, anti-Semites, Klansmen, white supremacists, nationalists, Neo-Nazis, race-baiters and bigots who are responsible for the “nation’s spiral toward violence and incivility …”

Apparently somewhat aware that they are the pot calling the kettle black, the editorialists remark, “We normally wouldn’t engage in name calling like this, but in this case it fits. In showing no understanding of the struggles of Americans and acting only in his own best interests, Trump is behaving like an animal.”

The hate-filled, accusatory editorial demands, “Let’s return to a sense of balance and serious, nonhate-filled discussion of the big issues facing us. … Vote to stop Trumpism’s chaos, and we’re confident that when the Republicans see that Americans have had enough of this hatred, the reasonable voices within the party will come out of hiding and stand for more than naked hatred.”

Apparently the tax reform and regulatory relief that have approved the economy are just part of the hate and chaos. Apparently the appointment of judges who actually adhere to the Constitution is a sleight of hand. Moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem was done by an anti-Semite. Sanctions against Iran and Russia are signs of weakness.

The editorial’s bottomline boils down to: Elect Democrats.


Two contrasting editorials about what is at stake in the November election

The Las Vegas Sun has an editorial that is nothing more than lengthy excerpts from a recent Obama speech under the headline: “Don’t sit on the sidelines for the most consequential election of your life.”

Obama is quoted as saying:

This November’s election is more important than any I can remember in my lifetime. And I know politicians say that all the time, but this time it really is different. This time the stakes are higher. …

Politicians try to keep us angry, keep us cynical, and they appeal to our tribal instincts and appeal to fear. They try to pit one group against another. And they tell us order and security will be restored if it weren’t for those people who don’t look like us or sound like us or pray like we do. …

On Nov. 6, we have a chance to restore some sanity to our politics. We can tip the balance of power back to the American people. Because you are the only check on bad policy, you’re the only real check on abuses of power. It’s you and your vote.

Hollow and pompous rhetoric without any specifics.

On the other hand, The Wall Street Journal has an editorial under the headline, “The Election Tax Divide,” that says precisely what is at stake in November.

Republicans are pushing a bill that would make the tax cuts for individuals and families permanent. Currently, obscure rules about deficit scoring force the expiration of individual tax cuts at the end of 2025.

Democrats want to repeal the tax cuts outright. They especially are foaming at the mouth about the $10,000 cap on the state and local tax deduction that means fewer IRS deductions for rich Democrats in high-tax states like California and New York.

Come Election Day, WSJ implores: “If nothing else, the House proposal makes clear that Republicans want to cut taxes while Democrats want to raise them. Voters who want to continue the economy’s robust growth should keep that in mind.”