As has been widely reported, junior Maryland Senator Benjamin Cardin has introduced a bill to allow newspapers to adopt 501c3 status. According to Cardin spokesperson Susan Sullam, “this is really aimed at community papers” or newspapers that may be bought and turned into non-profits.
In addition, Sen. Cardin did give a nice ode to newspaper journalism on the floor of the Senate:
Most, if not all sources of journalistic information, from Google to broadcast news or punditry,” Cardin said, “gain their original news from the laborious and expensive work of experienced newspaper reporters, diligently working their beat over the course of years, not hours.”“Newspaper reporters forge relationships with people: they build a network which creates avenues to information. These relationships and the information that follows are essential to a free democratic society.”
‘‘(1) the trade or business of such corporation or organization consists of publishing on a regular basis a newspaper for general circulation, (2) the newspaper published by such corporation or organization contains local, national, and international news stories of interest to the general public and the distribution of such newspaper is necessary or valuable in achieving an educational purpose, and (3) the preparation of the material contained in such newspaper follows methods generally accepted as educational in character.’’.
Double hmm, especially on that last bit.
Does anybody understand what exactly Senator Cardin is trying to accomplish? If a 501c3 wanted to buy the Dallas Morning News, couldn’t it already do so? I guess there might be some existing barriers to converting an extant paper to non-profit status that this would clear up, but I can’t really think of them. And of course the biggest issue is what to do with those pesky shareholders who aren’t feeling especially philanthropic.