On the heels of its editor accepting a buyout from new owner Sheldon Adelson, the Las Vegas Review-Journal is a “convoluted mess” with journalists having no clue who’s pulling the strings.
“It’s a mess — it’s a convoluted mess,” deputy editor James Wright told the New York Times. “We don’t really know in some cases who’s in charge of what.”
Wright added that it’s unknown who’s reviewing stories about the paper’s new owners: “We’re not sure who is doing the vetting.”
One thing is clear — stories are already being trimmed by management for what seems like dubious records.
The Times reported that a story about editor Mike Hengel’s resignation was cut from about 20 paragraphs to three, with Hengel’s comments cut from the story.
“Similarly, an initial article on the paper’s website about the sale was edited after it was published to remove references to the buyer’s unknown identity,” the Times reported.
The story of Hengel’s resignation also came about in a dubious manner.
Mr. Hengel said he was approached about taking a buyout offer on Dec. 11 — the day after the paper was sold — after he had argued with Jason Taylor, The Review-Journal’s publisher, about the changes to the initial article on the sale. The buyout offer came on Tuesday around 4 p.m., shortly before he addressed the newsroom. The statement from the new owners that said Mr. Hengel had “accepted a voluntary buyout offer” appears to have been written before he, in fact, accepted it.
As TheWrap previously reported, journalists at the Review-Journal are uneasy at both the direction of the paper and their job security at it.
Hegel told the Times: “I’m not sure what their plans were and how I fit into them…So when I got presented an offer based on what I knew the situation was, I had to determine whether it was acceptable or not. And for me and my family, it was.”