December 15, 2015 Last Updated 7:09 am

GOP holds last debate of ’15 in Las Vegas, a city that still doesn’t know who owns its leading paper

Morning Brief: Media reporters continue to speculate as to who owns the Las Vegas Review-Journal, with the Koch Brothers among the first of the suspects saying ‘not us’

The Republicans will be hold another debate tonight, to be held in Las Vegas and broadcast on CNN. The good news is that this is the last one this year, with only one more scheduled after the New Years holiday and the Iowa caucuses.

CNN-debate-355Like any other television series, this one is starting to get old and stale. After all, there really is no debating at the debate, the candidates hold virtually identical positions on everything from immigration to guns, from taxes to war in the Middle East (less, more – and less, more).

Amazingly, despite most of the candidates struggling in single digits in the polls, no one seems to want to give up and pull out of the race. It is as if the vast majority of candidates just can’t believe the front runners can remain front runners – eventually the electorate will come to their senses, right?

Well, no, soon the electorate will actually start to weigh in, and when they do the real fireworks will begin. Nothing creates a sense of urgency like delegates being won and locked away (for at least the first round of voting at the convention).

Instead of listening to the candidates, maybe it might be more entertaining to conduct a debate among the candidate’s supporters. First, it would get rowdy. Second, it would reveal just why some in the electorate are favoring one candidate over another. After all, if the candidates all pretty hold the same positions on issues like guns, taxes, immigrants, and the rest, then there is something else going on, right? (The only smart rule might be to make them all check their firearms at the door before starting.)

Media observers all across the country are still trying to figure out who exactly owns the Las Vegas Review-Journal. The mystery, in case this is all new to you, was created when New Media Investment Group bought the paper earlier this year from Stephens Media for just over $100M. Then, just last week, they turned around and sold its ownership for $140M to a company that was just recently formed. The new owner isn’t coming in to start managing the paper – instead, New Media has been contracted to continue managing the paper.

Bill-LVRJNo one buys newspapers these days because they are cash cows, they do it for only one of two reasons: that is simply the business they are in (and figure they will make money on the back-end when they declare bankruptcy and sell off to some other schmuck); or for the political influence the newspaper can give them.

So, speculation as to who now owns the newspaper has been limited to the usual political suspects: the Koch Brothers and Sheldon Adelson. The Koch Brothers, some are reporting, have denied any ties to the acquisition.

But maybe media reporters are not thinking out of the box enough. My own sources have turned up one intriguing possibility (seen at right), and though I’m not willing to go all in and declare that I have solved the mystery, there are very good reasons to think that Bill the Cat is the new owner. One, he is a candidate in this election cycle; and two, he has a major issue to push and needs newspaper support (he wants a return to two spaces following a period, an issue I dot believe has been discussed in any of the previous debates).

So, that’s my guess, and until new evidence appears I’m sticking to it. THBBFT!

Meredith issued an update for its digital magazine app Eat This, Not That! Magazine. The update is minor, just some bug fixes, but the app remains an interesting one in Meredith’s catalog.

EatThis-iPad-cover-featureUnlike its other digital editions, this is one of the few magazine apps from Meredith that doesn’t offer a replica edition of a print magazine. That didn’t prevent the app from initially getting negative reviews when launched. The problem, which is all too common, was that those that downloaded the app were expecting to get something for free – it is a magazine app so it required an in-app purchase.

But after the negative reviews piled up the reviews flipped and they are now mostly positive.

But the number of reviews are so small that it is hard to come to any conclusion about whether creating a native digital magazine is a superior solution to simply creating a replica edition. That is not unusual. To be honest, that has been the case since the iPad app store was launched in 2010 and the first digital magazines began to appear.

In the end, it is up to publishers to decide what they will offer their readers. There remains little evidence that one solution is better than another except what you, yourself see on your digital device. Are you, or are you not committed to digital publishing? Most legacy publishers claim to be, even when their digital editions show that not to be the case.

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