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Does operating a newspaper as a nonprofit work?

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by BertoltBrecht, Feb 20, 2008.

  1. BertoltBrecht

    BertoltBrecht Member

    Reading the Albuquerque Trib closing thread I saw this:

    "A group of concerned readers working under the name Friends of the Albuquerque Tribune have also expressed interest in saving the newspaper and operating it as a nonprofit. The group plans a meeting Thursday night to discuss its efforts to acquire the newspaper."

    I'm curious, are there other papers like this? Googling I found Poynter owns the St. Pete Times, does anyone know how this works?
  2. Stitch

    Stitch Active Member

    I think it would interesting if you had a group with operating capital and didn't need to satisfy shareholders' expectations for ridiculous profit margins.

    The best best would find some local rich group of investors who just want to ego boost of owning a paper. That's stating the obvious though.
  3. Sam Mills 51

    Sam Mills 51 Active Member

    That's most of the beauty of the St. Pete Times ... and why we haven't heard any of the massive job cuts stories coming out of there.

    It's the ridiculous profit margins and financial cooking of books that are contributing to the downfall, not that newspapers are suddenly not profitable.
  4. STLIrish

    STLIrish Active Member

    My understanding is that basically, the Poynter family, which owned the St. Pete Times, launched the Poynter Institute as a nonprofit and essentially gave over the newspaper to it, so that it can incorporate as a nonprofit and its surplus (profits) go to fund the Poynter Institute. This is a great thing for the newspaper, but required an act of considerable generosity on the part of its private owner.
    The New London Day is the only other I know of, though the Anniston Star is in the process of converting and has set up some sort of academic partnership with the University of Alabama.
    Basically, it requires a newspaper's owner to forgo any profits from a sale, and incorporate the thing as a nonprofit. Or a group of investors to buy it and do the same.
    A great idea, but newspapers are damn expensive, and most people with that kind of money aren't inclined to give it away.
  5. captzulu

    captzulu Member

    That's why I think nonprofit journalism would only flourish once newspapers have shifted to a primarily web-based medium with limited or no print edition. That'll cut overhead cost significantly, and that lower start-up cost might also spawn multiple news-gathering organizations in one area. So instead of having one 50k newspaper, you might have 2 or 3 smaller, competing online news companies serving that same area. It might be the same number of journalists covering that area; they'd just work for different companies.
  6. crusoes

    crusoes Active Member

    I thought newspapers already were nonprofit. Hence, the cutbacks and lack of raises.

    Could someone have been lying?
  7. wickedwritah

    wickedwritah Guest

    It's not a panacea. Manchester, N.H., is owned by a non-profit (Loeb School of Communications), and they just went through a second round of buyouts in two years. (Scroll to the bottom of the link.)


    Also, I believe Tupelo (?) is owned by a non-profit.
  8. Rex Harrison

    Rex Harrison Member

    Anniston (Ala.) Star is non-profit (I think).
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