Some things just don’t seem to hold their value — such as induction into the Nevada Newspaper Hall of Fame

Some things just aren’t as significant as they used to be.

I’m sure there was a nice story and photo in the paper back around the turn of the century when Review-Journal Publisher Sherman Frederick was inducted in the Nevada Newspaper Hall of Fame. That was before electronic archives.

When longtime R-J investigative reporter A.D. Hopkins was inducted into the Hall in 2010 there was a nice writeup in the paper and I penned a column on the topic.

When R-J capital bureau chief Ed Vogel was inducted in 2012 there was a glowing account of his storied career. I mentioned Vogel’s Hall of Fame status in a blog once.

In 2014, the induction of Dave Sanford, whose family ran the Mason Valley News in Yerington for decades, and Brian Greenspun, editor and publisher of the Las Vegas Sun, warranted a sidebar in the paper.

But in 2015 when the late R-J political reporter Laura Myers was inducted the news was fully contained in the third paragraph of a story about the paper’s Nevada Newspaper Association awards. AP carried a short story. I defended Myers’ reputation in a blog earlier this year and remarked on her passing at the time.

On Sunday the paper reported the induction of former, 30-plus-years columnist John L. Smith. The news was contained in the third from last paragraph of an awards story: “John L. Smith, a longtime columnist for the Review-Journal, was inducted to the Nevada Newspaper Hall of Fame.”

Talk about deflation in value. I wonder why that is.

Smith doing commentary at KNPR

John L. Smith doing commentary at KNPR


Laura Myers

Laura Myers


Ed Vogel

Ed Vogel


A.D. Hopkins

A.D. Hopkins


Sherman Frederick

Sherman Frederick

With Reid, the quality of mercy and memory sometimes seems a bit strained

Harry Reid and Bob Brown at Chamber of Commerce meeting in 2009.

I was wondering how the Review-Journal would handle the rich irony of Harry Reid nominating former R-J publisher Bob Brown, president of the Opportunity Village Foundation, to the National Council on Disability.

To my surprise the paper didn’t shirk.

“Brown is former publisher of the Las Vegas Review-Journal, whose editorial board frequently clashes with Reid and advocated against his re-election in 2010,” the R-J reported today. “After shaking his hand at a chamber event in 2009, Reid told Brown: ‘I hope you go out of business.’”

Brown was the paper’s advertising director at the time.

The account didn’t go into the details, such the fact Brown was named publisher less than a week after Reid was re-elected in November 2010. He replaced Sherman Frederick as publisher and Mike Ferguson took the other half of Frederick’s job as CEO of Stephens Media, the paper’s owners.

Both Brown and Ferguson were ousted from their jobs three years later, while Frederick remains a consultant, columnist and occasional blogger for the newspaper.

Frederick took considerable umbrage with Reid when he made that g0-out-of-business remark.

Frederick blogged:

“Such behavior cannot go unchallenged.

“You could call Reid’s remark ugly and be right. It certainly was boorish. Asinine? That goes without saying.

“But to fully capture the magnitude of Reid’s remark (and to stop him from doing the same thing to others) it must be called what it was — a full-on threat perpetrated by a bully who has forgotten that he was elected to office to protect Nevadans, not sound like he’s shaking them down.

“No citizen should expect this kind of behavior from a U.S. senator. It is certainly not becoming of a man who is the majority leader in the U.S. Senate. And it absolutely is not what anyone would expect from a man who now asks Nevadans to send him back to the Senate for a fifth term.

“If he thinks he can push the state’s largest newspaper around by exacting some kind of economic punishment in retaliation for not seeing eye to eye with him on matters of politics, I can only imagine how he pressures businesses and individuals who don’t have the wherewithal of the Review-Journal.

“For the sake of all who live and work in Nevada, we can’t let this bully behavior pass without calling out Sen. Reid. If he’ll try it with the Review-Journal, you can bet that he’s tried it with others. So today, we serve notice on Sen. Reid that this creepy tactic will not be tolerated.

“We won’t allow you to bully us. And if you try it with anyone else, count on going through us first.”

Though there were never any details that came my way, there were widespread rumors that Reid or one of his minions had in fact given a veiled threat to the owner of the newspaper chain.

I, on the other hand, shrugged off Reid’s remark and called it a ringing endorsement of the paper by Reid.

I invited the senator to drop by for an editorial board meeting:

“Thanks for the endorsement, Harry. Now, how about dropping by for an editorial board meeting to discuss health care reform and cap and trade? A little exposure to some libertarians might do you good. If you can eat jack rabbit stew, you can surely gnaw on a couple of sinewy editorialists.”

The rest is history.


Battle Born Media acquires Mesquite newspaper

Mesquite Local News website today

Mesquite Local News website today

Stephens Media, parent company of the Las Vegas daily newspaper, continues to shed personnel and assets. The latest leaf to fall is the Mesquite Local News weekly newspaper and online website, which have been purchased by Battle Born Media, a company owned by former, longtime Las Vegas Review-Journal publisher Sherman Frederick and globetrotting Associated Press sports columnist Tim Dahlberg, who has been based in Nevada for decades.

BBM already publishes the Lincoln County Record, The Ely Times, Eureka Sentinel and Mineral County Independent-News. In the story announcing the acquisition, Frederick was quoted as saying: “Mesquite is a wonderful town with no shortage of news. It fits in nicely with our other newspapers and our style of providing uncompromising community news in rural Nevada. We’re looking forward to becoming a vital part of the region and its communities.”

The Las Vegas paper made no note of the transaction.

Today’s edition contains a column on the Bundy confrontation under the headline: “What choices did Cliven Bundy have?”

It points out, as few news accounts have, that Bundy was literally in a Catch 22 when he was told by the BLM that could not graze cattle in the spring in order to protect threatened desert tortoises:

“The whole premise that Bundy owes $1 million in unpaid fees, fines and interest is suspect.

“Bundy explained to the BLM that he had no feed lot in which to hold cattle and his only option would be to sell his cattle for slaughter in February and buy new stock to put out to pasture in July. But from July to February desert range cattle actually lose weight.

“When Bundy was told he could not graze in the spring, he also was told to remove all his water tanks and the lines that fed them from local springs. The reason for this has never been explained, and never mind that water rights are granted by the state and the federal government is not allowed to interfere with those rights, as several federal court cases have upheld.

“So, if he had paid his fees and grazed when the BLM told him he could, Bundy would have gone out of business. It is a Catch-22. Pay your fees and go broke. Defy an unsound and unscientific order and get broken. If Bundy had written the BLM a check for grazing his cattle when the BLM said he shouldn’t, they would not have accepted it.”

The paper also carries an editorial talking about the destruction of Bundy’s private property by the BLM and calling on Bundy to call up Sheriff Doug Gillespie, show him his destroyed 12,000-gallon water tank and demand an arrest warrant be issued. The water tank — torn apart by BLM agents — was undeniably Bundy’s private property as a part of his water rights, granted by the state of Nevada.

The Mesquite Local News is published in print and online on Thursday.


Will the local newspaper topple over from top-heavy management?

First, Stephens Media, the owner of the Las Vegas Review-Journal, three years ago replaced one with two. They ousted corporate CEO and newspaper publisher Sherman Frederick and replaced him with a CEO and a publisher. (OK, they also unceremoniously and without warning or explanation dismissed a general manager, a comptroller and others and demoted the editor.) Recently they replaced that CEO and publisher with three, adding a COO.

Today they dumped a circulation director and added four to upper management, doing this while laying off about 30 people who actually did the day-to-day work of producing the newspaper. Those layoffs, by the way, were never reported by the paper. And the online version of today’s story can only be found by looking up yesterday’s headlines.

According to a story in today’s newspaper, posted online yesterday afternoon, Steve Schorr, former Cox Communications vice president, becomes the newspaper’s vice president of marketing and community relations, whatever that is.

Cronies of Boss Moss added to upper management of Las Vegas newspaper.

Joe Robidoux becomes director of circulation and audience development for the newspaper and Stephens Media’s other newspapers. In a throwaway line deep in the story readers are told, “He replaces George Cherayil, who left the company.” Robidoux was a veep at the Los Angeles News Group, where the current R-J publisher Ed “Boss” Moss was once president. Probably a crony.

Ryan Christiansen becomes vice president of digital media for the paper and the corporation, while Mike Flanagan was named director of digital sales for the paper and corporate. Both were definitely cronies of Moss in Denver, as the story says as much

The company also put the R-J editor in charge of the editorial functions at all the company’s newspapers, spreading supervisor duties at the local paper thin, though you’ll never smell the midnight oil wafting from his office, or so I’m informed.

And, I’m told, there are more changes to come (TK, as they say in the backshop of newspapers.). Stay tuned.

Look out Jose, with all those new management salaries to pay at the R-J they may have to lay you off, too.

Las Vegas newspaper: Live by the coup, die by the coup

The CEO of Stephens Media, owner of the Las Vegas Review-Journal, “stepped down” today to be replaced by a former Denver publisher.

Mike Ferguson

Stepped down” is the wording used when former CEO and publisher Sherman Frederick was replaced by Mike Ferguson as CEO and Bob Brown as publisher about a week after Harry Reid was re-elected in 2010. Frederick stayed on as a consultant, weekly columnist and nearly its sole remaining blogger.

That was the same day it was reported that I “would be stepping down” from editor to senior opinion editor, which lasted about six months. Several other top newspaper executives “stepped down” that day, too.

Mike Hengel, who had worked with Ferguson at another paper, was named editor. I wonder if he hears footsteps tonight.

The R-J is reporting that Ed Moss, formerly CEO and president of the Denver Post will replace Ferguson. Moss left the Post in March after only a year at the paper, reportedly to recuperate from injuries in a fall. Previously, he was publisher of the San Diego Union-Tribune and other California papers. He also was publisher at papers in Ohio, Michigan and Louisiana

Ed Moss

Warren Stephens, chairman of the board of Stephens Media, made the announcement, as he did when Frederick “stepped down.”

In 2009, when Moss left the Los Angeles Daily News to become publisher in San Diego, Ron Kaye, the former editor of the Daily News, penned a scathing blog about Moss, saying among other less than flattering things:

“Sending Moss to fix a struggling paper is like sending a mortician to treat an ailing patient. He will do the only thing he knows how to do: Cut, and cut, and cut some more: When he’s done with his handiwork, the U-T will be ready for embalming and burial much like the Daily News is

“Moss arrived at the Daily News nearly two years ago when it still had fight in it and immediately was dubbed “Little Napoleon” for his short stature, imperious manner and inability to engage in any kind of intelligent discussion of strategies that might save the paper.

“He’s a man who speaks in vapid cliches and offers no leadership.”

Kaye said Moss seldom entered the newsroom.

The R-J announcement also mentioned the letter of intent that had been signed by Ferguson and Paul Hamilton, president of the Las Vegas Sun and the Greenspun Corp., to dissolve the joint operating agreement under which the R-J prints and distributes the Sun as a section in the paper. “Both parties have said they expect the dissolution agreement to be finalized by the end of the year,” the story said, without mentioning Brian Greenspun’s futile efforts to derail the agreement in court, even though it was agreed to by his three siblings.

The newspaper’s circulation has been eroding, its website is a jumbled mess and search engine optimization is nonexistent — the paper’s stories are the last to be returned, if at all, in a keyword search.

Can’t say I’m surprised by the turn of events. Keep your heads down, R-J staffers. If Kaye is right, the bleeding will continue.

With syllogistic logic like this, is it any wonder Nevada lawmakers are befuddled?

easy [ˈiːzɪ] 10. Slang: sexually available


Sherman Frederick

I think I may have evidence that explains much of what is wrong with our dysfunctional state Legislature. On Sunday nine of our august lawmakers penned a letter to the Review-Journal saying the previous week’s column by former publisher Sherman Frederick was unworthy of publication.

In that column Sherman stripped down the rhetoric of certain Democratic lawmakers arguing in favor of “comprehensive” sex education. He said they basically are calling Silver State girls “easy.”  I suspect they found little solace in his follow-up column in the same edition Sunday.
Whatever the merits or demerits of the column — whether it lacked cultural sensitivity, sound reasoning and/or literary merit — what I found revealing was a paragraph from the rebuttal letter:

“Mr. Frederick’s interpretation is illogical. Pregnancy and STDs have virtually nothing to do with being ‘easy,’ and a lot to do with the use, misuse or lack of protection.”

Fifteen percent of this state’s lawmakers are on the record stating pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases have virtually nothing to do with, well, having sex.
If such syllogistic reasoning is applied to other decisions made in Carson City, you can certainly see why we have a body hellbent on raising taxes and unwilling see any merit whatsoever in cutting wasteful spending. Spending has virtually nothing to do with the need to raise taxes.

And who is doing that kind of work now?

As further evidence the Las Vegas Review-Journal has run off more good reporters and editors than most newspaper ever hire, witness the Sunday Viewpoints section.

In the lede editorial about the state’s prevailing wage law, the editorialist cites a 2000 series of articles:

“As documented by former Review-Journal writer A.D. Hopkins in 2000, the mandatory minimum wages published by the Nevada state Labor Commissioner sometimes require contractors to pay as much as $13.69 per hour above the highest real wages reported for a given labor specialty during the previous year. Those erroneous “prevailing wages” — dreamed up out of thin air — then became the actual wages that had to be paid the next year on government construction projects, at which point they were factored into the following year’s wage mandates.”

On the op-ed page, former publisher (did I mention run off?) Sherman Frederick calls for former UNLV basketball coach Jerry Tarkanian to be admitted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame, even though:

“We were minding the public’s business — which included unblinking coverage of the long fight between the NCAA and Tark — when investigative reporter A.D. Hopkins encountered a guy with a story he claimed would implode the UNLV basketball program.

The hot tub photo (appears to be photo of the front page photo from the R-J)

“Hopkins came into my office and closed the door. ‘You gotta see this,’ he said.

“A.D.’s guy then proceeded to show us negatives of three current UNLV basketball players in a hot tub with Richard ‘The Fixer’ Perry — a man already convicted of throwing college basketball games.

“After verifying the negatives and double-checking the man’s story, we ran the picture, which was taken in 1989. A convicted sports fixer with three UNLV basketball players. And there were subsequent reports of ‘The Fixer’ hanging out inside the UNLV locker room at halftime.

“As expected, it was an undeniable revelation that quickly ended Tark’s tenure at UNLV. It was ugly. He announced the 1991-92 season would be his last at the school.”

And that is just two of the countless stories and projects Hopkins reported and edited that earned him a spot in the Nevada Press Association Hall of Fame. But he and his team of investigative journalists probably pissed off too many advertisers, so they were disbanded and dismissed when a former ad salesman was made publisher.

Just adding a little perspective.

‘Defrocked’ columnist misdirects criticism as usual

In a Sunday Review-Journal interview story about “defrocked” Sun columnist Jon Ralston’s efforts to launch a profitable political website, there was this exchange:

Question: About those sarcastic quote marks you put around “newspaper” when citing the Review-Journal: Do we really not print anything newsworthy?

Answer: If I’m being honest, to some extent, that’s a relic of being horrified at how (former Publisher) Sherm Frederick and (former Editor) Tom Mitchell conducted themselves during the Reid-Angle Senate race. I think they were way out of control, and I think it trickled into coverage. People thought the quote marks were funny, so I kept them. I guess I need to get over it, but that was the genesis of it. I do not hate the R-J.

I defy Ralston or anyone else to find a single sentence that I wrote prior to the election that was “way out of control.” (After the election is another story.) And I especially defy anyone to show a scintilla of evidence that the paper’s news coverage was in any way biased.

Ralston and Angle

Ralston and Angle

But since Ralston brought it up, one could do well to look back at Ralston’s writings and television interviews.

Is calling a candidate crazy and dangerous, as Ralston did in one column, way out of control? “But Reid’s serpentine rhetorical peregrinations seem addled; Angle’s seem dangerous. So do we want the dotty guy or the crazy woman?”

Perhaps saying a candidate is pathological is objective reporting. “I am beginning to wonder about this seemingly pathological habit Angle has of saying she never said something when it is on tape and so easily retrieved.”

I would say calling a candidate schizophrenic might be a bit out of control. “I am not sure who that was I interviewed on ‘Face to Face’ Tuesday evening, but it was not Sharron Angle.” Ralston wrote after the primary in 2010. “At least not the Sharron Angle who existed before she was catapulted from relatively unknown former assemblywoman to perhaps the most famous Republican Senate nominee in the country …”

Later in that column he said, “So if Angle is indeed dealing with her new schizophrenia, making her a prime target, why won’t Reid debate her? My guess is he will, but only under the most favorable circumstances.”

I suppose penning a column with a fictional dialogue between a candidate and God, is fair and balanced rather than an attempt at ridicule.

“Has Sharron Angle, who makes stuff up, changes her positions and revises history, gotten away with it?” Ralston asked in another screed.

He answered his own question later by writing that “she was doing what she has done the entire campaign, with her ‘Second Amendment remedies’ lunacy and her ‘domestic enemies’ echo of a deluded radio host: Play to the worst fears and visceral beliefs of voters despondent about the economy, alienated from government and looking for someone to be a repository for their bilious unease.”

Speaking of bilious, take a look at a few of his diatribes face-to-face, so to speak, with candidate Angle:

Angle is right and Ralston is wrong, as I so noted at the time. There is an Establishment Clause and a Free Exercise Clause in the First Amendment, but no Wall of Separation Clause. That phrase was first used by Thomas Jefferson in 1802 in a letter to the Danbury Baptists, who feared Connecticut might establish a state sanctioned religion. The First Amendement at the time restrained Congress but not the states — until the passage of the 14th Amendment.

Maybe its just Harry’s version of the Ghost Dance — to remove almost all people from the land

Perhaps you’ve heard by now how Harry Reid is holding 800 Yerington area jobs hostage so he can placate his environmentalist buddies who would like to wipe every trace of human habitation off the face of the planet.

Rep. Mark Amodei managed to get a bill through the House that would allow Yerington to buy 10,000 acres of BLM land at market value to facilitate development of the Pumpkin Hollow copper mine, but Harry is holding it up in the Senate because he wants to hang a wilderness ornament on the tree.

Harry Reid wants 80,000 acres of wilderness designation in exchange for bill to allow Yerington to buy land and create jobs.

I mentioned it in August and Sherman Frederick mentioned it Sunday in his column in the Review-Journal, but it’s not been widely reported.

“It is not a lot of wilderness area but it is something that is important,” Reid was quoted as saying by the Reno Gazette-Journal. “They cannot think they are going to get this thing and do nothing for the environment.”

It apparently turns out that “not a lot of wilderness area” to Harry is 125 square miles, about the size of the entire city of Las Vegas or about 6 percent of all of Lyon County.

According to an article in the Mason Valley News — “The Only Newspaper In The World That Gives A Damn About Yerington,” but not enough to use its name for its flag — Harry recently suggested (though it is not stated where or to whom) 80,000 acres of what has been called the “Wovoka” area, which the paper says is on the south and east side of the Pine Grove mountain range, should be designated as wilderness as a part of the Yerington bill.


The area seems to be appropriately named for the Northern Paiute who in 1889 claimed God had shown him the Ghost Dance, which would remove all the white people and return the land to the Paiutes. The Ghost Dance soon spread from Mason Valley to Paiutes in Oregon, California and Utah, as well as to the Shoshone, Utes, Cheyenne, Arapaho and Lakota.

The land in question is doubtlessly already under the control of the BLM or one the federal bureaucracies that control 85 percent of Nevada and its use is subject to rules, regulations and whims of federal agents. But wilderness designation would make the land off-limits for the average Nevadan.

The Wilderness Act of 1964 defines a wilderness area as one “where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man … retaining its primeval character and influence, without permanent improvements or human habitation, which is protected and managed so as to preserve its natural conditions … has outstanding opportunities for solitude or a primitive and unconfined type of recreation …”

No vehicles, no roads, no trails, no outhouses, no park benches, no trash cans, no power tools, no bicycles, no cutting firewood. Hunting is allowed in season under state law, but if you bag anything bigger than a squirrel be prepared to haul it out on your back.

Ghost Dance

The Mason Valley paper quoted Amodei as saying, “I don’t know how you can hold up (the bill) when it is ready to move on its own merits.” He said any wilderness bill should be separate, backed by the local community and “stand on its own merits.”

But give Harry a place to stand in the Senate with a lever as long as the Senate calendar and a fulcrum of job-desperate Lyon County residents, where the unemployment rate is 15 percent, he can move (or block) mountains of legislation. With no apologies to Archimedes.

Or maybe its just Harry’s version of the Ghost Dance.