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University of Wisconsin–Madison

Ethics in the News – Dec. 15

News media are raising questions about the mystery owners of one of their own.

A division of Gatehouse Media sold the Las Vegas Review-Journal this week to News + Media Capital Group. The owners of that company have not revealed themselves.

(Meanwhile, Gatehouse bought The Erie (Pa.) Times-News, which had been family-owned for more than 120 years.)

The sale of the newspaper to unknown owners creates a conflict for journalists who preach transparency and avoidance of conflicts of interests.

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Last night something strange came across my screen. I think it qualifies as a mystery. News that the Las Vegas…

Posted by Jay Rosen on Friday, December 11, 2015

That potential conflict of interest became a reality when later that day a Review-Journal story was edited to remove a quote that questioned the owners, according to a Huffington Post story.

Journalists have responded by tweeting the Society of Professional Journalists’ Code of Ethics.

Even GOP presidential candidate Jeb Bush took a jab at the secrecy of the owners.

Documents name Michael Schroeder as the company’s manager.  When The New York Times contacted Schroeder, he refused to talk about the owners.

The name of Sheldon Adelson keeps coming up as a possible owner in news reports – but without much given evidence.

Fortune Magazine, for its part, reported that the owner is not the Koch brothers.

In other ethics news this week:

  • Kickstarter hired a journalist to investigate a project funded through the site that failed.
  • The writer for Packers.com, which along with other sports-team-owned news sites has faced ethical questions, responded to a reader’s question about conflicts of interests.
  • LA Times faced criticism for making an implicit comparison between Serena Williams and American Pharaoh, a horse.

Ethics Center in the news:

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