February 5, 2016

The Las Vegas Review-Journal, which late last year was purchased by billionaire casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, has a new editor atop its masthead.

Keith Moyer, the former publisher, president and CEO of The (Minneapolis-St. Paul) Star Tribune, will be the editor of the Las Vegas Review-Journal, publisher Craig Moon announced at a staff meeting Friday.

During the meeting, Moyer seemed to suggest Adelson’s family would supply financial runway for the Review-Journal, which has recently opened several new positions as part of a plan to grow the newsroom.

Moyer’s appointment brings an end to speculation within the Review-Journal newsroom as to who would succeed former editor Mike Hengel, who left in December shortly after Adelson’s family was revealed to be behind the purchase of the newspaper.

The Review-Journal found itself at the center of a media mystery late last year when New Media Investment Group, the parent company of newspaper chain Gatehouse Media, announced it had sold the paper to an undisclosed buyer for a sum of $140 million.

The anonymous nature of the transaction made waves in the media world, with journalists at the newspaper and elsewhere demanding to know who owned the Review-Journal. Adelson’s involvement in the deal, which was reported by Fortune and the Review-Journal itself, was greeted with suspicion by the paper’s journalists, who wondered whether the casino magnate would use the paper to achieve his political ends.

Since then, the Review-Journal has seen its top two positions turn over as its new owners have exerted their will at the paper. Jason Taylor, who was appointed publisher in June 2015, was replaced by Moon last week as the Review-Journal’s top executive. Glenn Cook, the paper’s senior editorial writer, was named interim editor while the paper’s management sought a new leader for the newsroom.

Taylor’s departure from the Review-Journal has coincided with decreasing involvement on the part of Gatehouse Media, which was retained to help manage the newspaper after its sale. Since Moon’s appointment, stories involving Adelson were being “reviewed, changed or killed almost daily” and the paper was facing “a flurry of resignations,” according to a recent report from POLITICO.

In recent days, Moon has held meetings with Review-Journal staffers to go over the future trajectory of the paper, according to one newsroom source. During these meetings, which were held Thursday and Friday, Moon has sought to reassure the paper’s reporters and editors that they would not be subject to retaliation for anything they’ve written or said about Adelson or his businesses.

The meetings also saw Moon outline a desire for digital growth at the Review-Journal and tell staffers that private ownership means the masthead is no longer answerable to shareholders, according to the source.

Up until last week when Taylor departed, morale at the Review-Journal was relatively stable, the source said. The paper hired copy editors and page designers to give the Review-Journal its own production hub, which was viewed as a sign of improvement. But the recent change in leadership, combined with a smattering of departures, has prompted a decline in morale despite reassurances from Moon.

“We’ve had so many publishers and owners at this point, we kind of take things we hear with a grain of salt,” the source said. “Anything we hear from the top end, it’s just white noise until we find out for ourselves.”

Moyer held the top executive job at the Star-Tribune from 2001 until 2007, when the McClatchy Company sold the newspaper to Avista Capital Partners. Since 2010, Moyer has been a senior fellow at the University of Minnesota’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication, where he teaches writing, reporting and marketing, according to his LinkedIn bio.

Before joining the Star-Tribune, Moyer was publisher and president of The Fresno Bee, a position he took after a stint as executive editor there.

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Benjamin Mullin is the managing editor of Poynter.org. He previously reported for Poynter as a staff writer, Google Journalism Fellow and Naughton Fellow, covering journalism…
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