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Las Vegas Paper Opposes Education Ballot Measure in Multiple Ways

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The Las Vegas Review-Journal newspaper is going beyond editorials to oppose a measure on the Nevada ballot in November would raise taxes on large businesses in the state to increase funding for education. The paper has raised some eyebrows by publishing advertisements opposing the measure in its own pages.

The ad says: "Vote No! on Question 3. No Guarantees. No Accountability. Devastating for small businesses & families. Consumers would pay more." And as noted by Nevada political blogger Jon Ralston and media blogger Jim Romenesko, the very bottom of the ad says in small type: "A message from the Las Vegas Review-Journal."

"My God," Ralston wrote on his blog last week. "I'm sure this will be disclosed in all news stories from now on, right? How soon until these ads make it onto the front page?"

The measure known as the Education Initiative, or Question 3, is backed by the Nevada State Education Association, the state affiliate of the National Education Association. The state's business community, including casino and mining interests, is fighting the measure. Las Vegas' two daily newspapers have editorialized against the measure, which is also known as the "margins tax," which would impose a 2 percent tax on businesses generating more than $1 million a year in revenue 

The Review-Journal editorialized late last month that "more money, by itself, won't make our schools better, and Question 3 includes no education reforms as part of its language."

But it went a step further than editorial-page opposition with its house ad. 

"It's one thing for a newspaper to take a public position through its editorial board on an initiative," Ruben Marillo Jr., the president of the state teachers' union said. "But it's unusual for a paper to use ads."

I called the Review-Journal and was initially directed to Editor Michael Hengel. He called me back on Tuesday but missed me. A second attempt yielded a call from a staff member representing the publisher, but we also missed connecting. Several additional calls to the paper were not returned.

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