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Bill Proposed to Create Nonprofit Newspapers

Legislation is aimed at saving the industry

A Democratic senator has proposed a bill that would give newspapers nonprofit status in an attempt to help alleviate some of the financial pressures affecting the industry.

On the heels of several recent failures, Maryland Sen. Ben Cardin’s legislation is aimed at allowing newspapers to operate under 501(c)(3) educational status, similar to that afforded public broadcasting. Advertising and subscription revenue would be tax-exempt, and contributions would be tax-deductible. The downside to such a plan would be that papers could not make political endorsements, though it would not impact political reporting.

"We are losing our newspaper industry," Cardin said in a statement. "The economy has caused an immediate problem, but the business model for newspapers, based on circulation and advertising revenue, is broken, and that is a real tragedy for communities across the nation and for our democracy."

The bill would help newspapers such as those owned by Tribune Co., including the Baltimore Sun, Chicago Tribune and the Los Angeles Times.

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