The Salt Lake Tribune hopes its new status as a nonprofit will ensure its long-term viability in an industry in crisis — and other newspapers suffering amid the same declines in advertising and circulation revenues are expected to watch closely. The newspaper will be governed by a board of directors and rely on donations under a plan the Tribune said Monday has been approved by the IRS, six months after the Utah news outlet made the request. The newspaper will maintain editorial independence and enact a strict firewall between reporters and donors to prevent influence, just as newspapers have long done with advertisers, owner and publisher Paul Huntsman said. One difference is that the Tribune editorial board will no longer make candidate endorsements, the AP reports.
“The current business model for local newspapers is broken and beyond repair,” said Huntsman, who will turn over ownership, per the Tribune. The plan is similar to arrangements at the Philadelphia Inquirer and Tampa Bay Times, which are owned by nonprofit foundations. The Tribune's plan is different, because the newspaper itself becomes a nonprofit. It's similar to the model that National Public Radio and PBS use, said Alberto Ibargüen, president of the Knight Foundation, which supports journalism and has pledged $250,000 to the Tribune. Now that the IRS has made the precedent-setting decision, the nontraditional model could be followed by other news outlets around the country that are exploring ways to survive, Ibargüen said.
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