The Internal Revenue Service considers the NFL — yes, the National Football League, home to gazillion-dollar salaries and revenues — a registered nonprofit!1
Meanwhile, dozens of nonprofit journalism outlets have been waiting for months or even years to attain the same status.2 (Maybe they should just get involved in organized sports.)
But seriously, the IRS is dragging its feet about whether journalism organizations should be allowed to declare themselves as nonprofits under the tax code.3 It’s odd that this is even a question. Nonprofit journalism has been an integral part of the American media landscape for decades.4
Nonprofit journalism is not a new thing. News outlets like ProPublica, the Christian Science Monitor and Mother Jones produce the kind of hard-hitting investigative journalism that the mainstream media have largely abandoned. We need more of this kind of work, not less. Yet without official nonprofit status, many nonprofit outlets could close their doors.
As big media conglomerates lay off unprecedented numbers of reporters and slash newsroom costs, the value of nonprofit journalism is clearer than ever.
The IRS is stuck in the last century. It’s working with a set of outdated policies that don’t account for the state of our media today. Please urge the IRS to decide in favor of nonprofit journalism. Help pave the way for the next generation of news.
1. “Nonprofit Status: A Maybe for News Orgs, a Yes for the NFL,” Nieman Journalism Lab, April 3, 2012: http://act2.freepress.net/go/9727?akid=3450.9552211.GDPvl0&t=7
2. “Nonprofit News and the Tax Man,” Columbia Journalism Review, Nov. 11, 2011: http://act2.freepress.net/go/9728?akid=3450.9552211.GDPvl0&t=9
3. “IRS Makes Nonprofit Journalism Wait,” LA Observed, Oct. 13, 2012: http://act2.freepress.net/go/9729?akid=3450.9552211.GDPvl0&t=11
4. “Passing the Nonprofit Test: A Guide for Nonprofit News Outlets on How to Get 501(c)(3) Status,” Nieman Journalism Lab, March 19, 2012: http://act2.freepress.net/go/9731?akid=3450.9552211.GDPvl0&t=13