Should a newspaper’s owner be allowed to be anonymous?


This question has arisen because the Las Vegas Review-Journal, the state of Nevada’s largest circulation newspaper, was bought by someone and no one, not even the reporters working at the paper, knows their identity. What is more, the new owner paid a sum of $140 million, which was well above what people considered the market value.

So naturally people are wondering who the person is and why they paid such a premium. But more importantly, given the influence that the media have, especially these days where they have a monopoly in most markets in the US and can bestow huge political favors and punishments by the way they cover events, should the owners be allowed to be remain secret?

The answer should be no. It is bad enough that single individuals can own one of the major source of information that people have, allowing them to have an outsize say in public affairs. It is worse when we cannot use our knowledge of them to weigh the merits of what they choose to publish.

Some people are betting that the new owner is billionaire Sheldon Adelson. He has made his money from gambling interests in Las Vegas and elsewhere so he has a lot to gain from a friendly local paper. He also has a huge interest in picking the Republican nominee and Nevada is an early primary state, the fourth event in that calendar. Tonight’s debate is being held in Las Vegas. Adelson’s main political passion is Israel and he has several newspapers in that nation that advocate for his hardline policies against Palenstinians and the Muslim world. That combination may explain his purchase, if he is indeed the new owner.

It turns out that there is no legal requirement that a newspaper owner’s name be made public. But I am pretty sure that the name of the new owner will come to light soon. This kind of information is hard to keep secret for long.

Comments

  1. says

    Well, I think that this sort of thing, plus Mr Murdocks’ efforts, has pretty well sunk the credibility of the press. I don’t necessarily think that is a bad thing. More cynicism seems good, right now.

  2. Trickster Goddess says

    Time for some investigative reporters to get to work. I wonder if the Review-Journal will be (allowed to be) the first to break the story? Or will they have to be the anonymous source for another publication?

  3. John Morales says

    (sigh)

    It’s psychology, but it’s right. Alas.

    The one ameliorating factor, which has not been mentioned, is the decrease of significance of mainstream media in this, the internet age.

    (How many people aren’t subject to the genetic fallacy?)

  4. says

    the decrease of significance of mainstream media in this, the internet age

    That is one thing I like about the internet age. I like that I can put an ad-blocker in place and do my little bit to starve the New York Times out of existence. Ever since the mainstream media sold itself to the capitalists and nationalists, I’ve been cheering every time I see them die a little bit. There will still be room for reporters. What’ll happen is that the money for flacks and hacks will dry up – or become increasingly captive to the media conglomerates to the point where even the most gullible viewer realizes that it’s all propaganda and product placement.

    Burn it all. Burn it to the ground. Then plow it with salt. That’s the cure for the media’s woes.

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