Saturday, August 1, 2009

Seatthe Times: Opinion - Endorsements are a vibrant contribution to community deliberation at election time

For-profit newspaper industry wants the feedom of the press, including advocating for candidates in there editorial pages, while also benefitting from the tax status of a not-for-profit organization.

Sen. Benjamin Cardin, D-Md., came up with a bill that would change the tax code to allow newspapers to become 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organizations. I commend Cardin for trying to use legislation to perpetuate a vital part of American democracy. So what's the problem? If the bill passes as is, any newspaper that opts to become a nonprofit will not be allowed to endorse candidates in political elections.
Seattle Times' Ryan Blethen.

So, what's the problem?
An advocate newspaper in that instance might become 501(c)(4) - lobbyist publication. And what stops a 501(c)(4) from claiming to be a 501(c)(3) non-profit?
How about churches that cross the line to advocate directly for candidates with endorsements.

Newspapers have worked very hard to put themselves in this box, independant of other organizations, to be free in the free market. The market has shrunk, so now you want it both ways, to be picked by the government as worthy of 501(c)(3) status, without that intrusive regulation that would prevent a newspaper from becoming a schill.
Being a schill is not only distasteful (Armstrong Williams), but actually against the LAW.

How could a not-for profit both take money in direct payment from a person or business and express an honest and independant newsroom and editorial board?
Blind trust and blind faith?
Not likely.

There is a helluva lot of regulation, law, and plain old common sense that has made things the way your industry has wanted it for almost 100 years.

I have a great idea, how about just starting with the current legislation. This arrangement has not hurt NPR, has it?

Then, maybe, the non-profit newspaper would at least pretend to strike a balance in reporting.

Have a great day,
Mike Baker

Sent from my iPhone
Visit me here: