Should Newspapers Be Non-Profit?

March 25th, 2009

This article in ZDNet suggests that it might not be such a bad idea. Says Mr. Diaz,

“What we’re not doing is sitting in on city council meetings on the lookout for changes to the zoning ordinances or hikes to property taxes. We’re not investigating environmental impacts from the new airport expansion or looking into motives of a developer who’s suddenly hanging around city hall regularly. That’s local stuff that should be covered at the local level and offered to local citizens. I imagine there are probably potential donors in cities and regions that would be willing to invest in local “journalism,” instead of “newspapers.””

Newspapers could subsist on donations rather than advertising. It’s an interesting idea, and there are some groups delving into the idea of donation based journalism.

However, the political biases of some newspapers are so obvious, it is hard to imagine them as non-profits. I can’t help but equate this idea to allowing churches to have non-profit status and promote political agendas.

Oh, wait. We already do that.

2 Responses to “Should Newspapers Be Non-Profit?”

  1. Frank Monaldo on March 25, 2009 6:54 pm

    Dear Dr. Kiki,

    I am not upset as you seem to be about non-profits having political agendas. In fact, I believe that is part of a great American tradition. The Civil Rights movement in the 1960’s arose out of black Baptist churches. Although before the era when tax deductions were an issue, the Quakers were strongly against slavery. Some people are convinced that NPR has left-of-center perspective, yet that is a non-profit.

    The law explicitly allows non-profits to work on behalf of a ballot measure. I think to prohibit this is a First Amendment violation. Non-profits are not allowed to work for specific candidates or parties.

    If I had infinite resources and wanted to affect elections, I would not donate money to political candidates. There are limits imposed. I would purchase a media outlet and be unencumbered.


  2. Mike Spear on March 30, 2009 10:29 am

    There is a current affairs type magazine up here in Canada that is good, intelligent, fairly objective AND run on a not-for-profit basis. Walrus Magazine ( ) has had a few struggles along the way but is holding its head above water for the moment and is a good example of what can be done without either the dreaded hidden agenda or an overtly political bias.
    They are worth checking out.


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