Friday, August 5, 2011
The proliferation of online news sources masks a deepening crisis in American journalism. Newspapers, which continue to be the linchpin of original news reporting, are facing unprecedented economic pressures largely due to the rise of new media that have forced nearly all major newspapers to lay off large numbers of journalists, reduce the scope of coverage, and sometimes cease operating entirely. The current economic crisis has only exacerbated existing forces already undermining the viability of the newspaper industry. The traditional support from commercial advertising and paper subscription base now seems antiquated, and the question looming before American journalism is what the next operating model will be. As such, a broad spectrum of publicly minded individuals and institutions has tried to find solutions for the ailing industry. One proposal that has gained traction has been to allow commercial newspapers to qualify for tax exemption. What has been lacking thus far is a comprehensive legal analysis of what a tax-exempt nonprofit newspaper can and should look like. This Article seeks to fill that gap by explicating the viability, problems, and benefits of particular legal structures these nonprofit newspapers might employ.