Wick Communications

Does ownership matter?

In journalism on December 17, 2015 at 4:02 pm

rjweb_3

The newspaper for which I toil, and this very blog, are productions of Wick Communications. It’s a privately held company, based in Sierra Vista, Ariz. I’ve met Bob and Walt Wick, as well as other family members, and don’t mind saying that I’m humbled to be a part of their operation. I know Wick has longstanding environmental concerns. Company newspapers support enterprise in the communities in which they do business.

Staffers at the Las Vegas Review-Journal don’t know anything about their newspaper’s owner as I write these words. All they know is that a shadowy Delaware-based limited liability corporation named Media + Capital Group paid too much for the biggest news organization in Nevada, and that whomever is behind it doesn’t wish to admit it.

It really goes without saying that having an anonymous ownership group strikes at the credibility of a news organization that demands accountability and transparency from the institutions it covers. It undercuts reporters who need to know if their boss has a conflict of interest with something in any given story. It makes the newspaper itself the big news of the day. And it’s only a matter of time before ownership is revealed, and so this whole charade is not only regrettable, but for naught.

We in the newspaper game often pretend – and it’s nothing more than make believe – that the owner of our news organization just doesn’t matter. We like to think of ourselves as answering to loftier gods than those in any corporate boardroom. But that’s naive. Our work differs in important ways depending on whether we work for Wick, Politico, Poynter or Gannett. There are different cultures, different expectations, different opportunities, different sacred cows. …

I suspect it’s a matter of days if not hours before the owners of the Review-Journal come clean. In fact, there are already rumors that the money man is a GOP contributor and casino magnate. And some day the owners will regret this chapter and wish they had come clean from Day 1.

Clay

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