Six months ago, in an unprecedented move for a legacy newspaper, the 148-year-old Salt Lake Tribune applied for nonprofit status with the Internal Revenue Service. In doing so, owner Paul Huntsman agreed to turn over ownership of the newspaper to a public board of directors. On October 29, the IRS approved the newspapers request for 501(c)(3) nonprofit status, making it possible for supporters to make tax deductible donations to support the newspapers work. The approval, which came sooner than expected, is the first time the IRS has granted nonprofit status to a daily newspaper.
The current business model for local newspapers is broken and beyond repair, said Huntsman, owner and publisher of The Salt Lake Tribune. We needed to find a way to sustain this vital community institution well beyond my ownership, and nonprofit status will help us do that. This is truly excellent news for all Utah residents and for local news organizations across the country.
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In a major shift to its business model, The Tribune will combine donations from supporters with advertising and subscription revenue. In addition, The Tribune will be a primary beneficiary of the Utah Journalism Foundation who has created an endowment to support independent journalism in the state. The hope as that these combined resources will make the newspaper sustainable in a time when so many legacy newspapers are struggling to straddle the digital divide.
Huntsman, who will be chairman of the board, said the newspaper will retain its journalistic independence from the board, and it will not accept contributions from people or organizations who hope to influence the newspapers coverage. Despite speculation to the contrary, the IRS did not put any limitations on the newspapers coverage going forward. The paper will continue to coverage politics, religion, environment, sports, opinion and religion. However, The Tribune will not allow endorsements of political candidates.
Jennifer Napier-Pearce will continue as The Tribunes editor. She said readers will probably not notice any changes to the newspapers journalism.
Well still have [editorial cartoonist Pat] Bagley, well still have sports analysis and well still have all the hard-hitting investigative reporting Tribune readers have come to expect and rely on from The Tribune, Napier-Pearce said. The integrity of our reporting and our values as a news organization wont change, but we will engage with the community in new ways and ask for their support.
The Tribune said it is not planning any immediate changes to its digital or print subscriptions, though subscription fees are not currently tax deductible. Subscribers wont see changes to billing or delivery schedules of their subscriptions.
Because the approval came sooner than expected, The Tribune will take time to develop donation options which will include a monthly contribution option. All donations will support the newsroom with a staff of about 60.
Welcome to the new nonprofit Salt Lake Tribune, reads the donation page of The Tribunes website.
For nearly 150 years Utahns have relied on The Salt Lake Tribune. As a nonprofit, The Tribune will now be led and supported by the community it serves. We pledge to continue our legacy of courageous journalism, and will rely on you – the public – to strengthen the institution of a fair and free press.
Your tax-deductible donation helps hold the powerful to account, create conversations, give voice to the voiceless and positively impact the lives of all who call Utah home. Now you can support The Tribunes Pulitzer Prize-winning coverage through tax-deductible donations as well as subscriptions.
Finally, the daily newspaper industry gets a major win. Like so many other legacy newspapers, The Tribune has suffered the transition from print to digital. Though The Tribune has a website and two apps (one true app and one a digital replica of the newspaper), The Tribune has found sustaining a daily newspaper financially challenging. Theyve cut back staff numerous times and are now down to 60. The IRS approved this change without limitation, which is another win, opening the door for other publishers to make similar moves.