Truthdigger of the Week: Stephanie Grimes, Former Editor at the Las Vegas Review-Journal
Posted on May 14, 2016
By Emma Niles
Every week the Truthdig editorial staff selects a Truthdigger of the Week, a group or person worthy of recognition for speaking truth to power, breaking the story or blowing the whistle. It is not a lifetime achievement award. Rather, we’re looking for newsmakers whose actions in a given week are worth celebrating.
On May 5, Stephanie Grimes uploaded a post to Medium titled “Why I’m out at the Las Vegas Review-Journal.” Grimes, who had been the publication’s features editor, was let go five months after the family of billionaire Sheldon Adelson purchased it for $140 million. Before diving into Grimes’ exposé, it’s important to understand the Review-Journal’s tumultuous recent history.
The purchase was initially shrouded in mystery. Fortune reported on the purchase, at first speculating that the Koch brothers had shelled out the insane sum. But in less than a week, the mystery was solved as it was revealed that Adelson, a Vegas casino mogul and major benefactor to the Republican Party, had purchased the paper (but arranged the purchase through his son-in-law.) Fortune wrote at the time:
Days after the purchase was announced, the paper’s editor, Mike Hengel, resigned. A source told Politico that Hengel said the new ownership “had the makings of an adversarial relationship.” Then, reports began to surface in early January of editorial manipulation. Storify reported:
This was Grimes’ first act of rebellious transparency. She writes on her Medium post that “[m]anagement was unhappy with that decision, to put it mildly,” and that she was not allowed to live-tweet an important staff meeting the following day. She says:
Changes in staff continued: The RJ got a new publisher and a new editor. But, Grimes writes, “the announcement was clouded” by a report on Politico, which said:
Grimes writes that although she was never told to “kill a story,” the possibility frightened her. Time passed. Then, sometime near the end of April, she began to face more problems. The new editor, Keith Moyer, “threatened to fire people he didn’t feel were loyal to the RJ,” says Grimes. She writes:
Grimes took to Twitter on May 5 to announce that she’d been fired.
Politico spoke with Grimes about the conditions of her termination:
Also on Twitter, Grimes delved into the numerous times she experienced sexism in the workplace, tweeting that the publication “has had a pretty bad sexism problem” and that the “Adelson-installed” higher-ups made her extremely uncomfortable with “their sexist, racist, awful jokes.”
As news of these suspicious editorial practices emerged, The New York Times reported that Adelson met privately with Donald Trump in early May and said “that he was willing to contribute more to help elect him than he has to any previous campaign, a sum that could exceed $100 million.” As Fortune wrote back in December, the Las Vegas Review-Journal is “Nevada’s largest daily newspaper with a circulation in excess of 175,000.” The Nevada caucus was held on Feb. 23, and Trump won with 45.9 percent of the vote.
As the general election looms, independent political reporting remains a crucial aspect of a fair democratic system. As Grimes has explained over the course of many months, the Review-Journal is becoming exceedingly influenced by interested third parties—and the reporting team isn’t always to blame. At the end of her post, she writes:
You can read Grimes’ entire piece on Medium here.
For her continued transparency in the face of questionable journalistic ethics, Stephanie Grimes is our Truthdigger of the Week.
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