Non-profit status for struggling newspapers?

newspapersSen. Benjamin Cardin, D-Md., proposed Tuesday to allow struggling newspapers to operate as nonprofits similar to public radio and television. The AP is reporting that Cardin introduced a bill that would allow newspapers to choose tax-exempt status. They would no longer be able to make political endorsements, but could report on all issues including political campaigns. Advertising and subscription revenue would be tax-exempt, and contributions to support coverage could be tax deductible. Cardin said in a statement that the bill is aimed at preserving local newspapers, not large newspaper conglomerates.

“We are losing our newspaper industry,” said Cardin. “The economy has caused an immediate problem, but the business model for newspapers, based on circulation and advertising revenue, is broken, and that is a real tragedy for communities across the nation and for our democracy.”

I have always felt that as news became more and more profitable it got more and more sensationalized. The mainstream media replaced yellow journalism drags and the result has been a less educated, less informed populous. I’m not sure going nonprofit would work across the board but I am a huge fan of public radio. I get the majority of my news that way during my commutes. And I tune in on the weekend for those special features and reports. But I admit to never supporting public radio. I guess I would still be part of the problem.

Either way, I’m a trained journalist who had enough sense to read the signs when I was in college a decade ago. I started learning web design and my first job out of college was as a webmaster. I mastered the web – design, marketing, writing, graphics, interactivity, etc. – and I have positioned myself to survive the decline of print journalism. That doesn’t make it less sad to see icons go under. The closing of the Seattle P-I was horrible and although it will exist in an online only format, that doesn’t really address the funding problem. If newspapers still have to make a profit, the model has to change. Not sure nonprofit is the way to do it though.

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One Response to “Non-profit status for struggling newspapers?”

  1. I wonder if the people at Seattle PI knew about this.

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