According to Michael O'Brien at The Hill, President Barack Hussein Obama said he is "happy to look at" bills before Congress that would give struggling news organizations tax breaks if they were to restructure as nonprofit businesses.
"I haven't seen detailed proposals yet, but I'll be happy to look at them," Obama told the editors of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and Toledo Blade in an interview.
Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) has introduced S. 673, the so-called "Newspaper Revitalization Act," that would give outlets tax deals if they were to restructure as 501(c)(3) corporations. That bill has so far attracted one cosponsor, Cardin's Maryland colleague Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D).
I did a little research into 501(c)(3) requirements. According to www.irs.gov, a 501(c)(3) "must be organized and operated exclusively for exempt purposes set forth in section 501(c)(3), and none of its earnings may inure to any private shareholder or individual. In addition, it may not be an action organization, i.e., it may not attempt to influence legislation as a substantial part of its activities and it may not participate in any campaign activity for or against political candidates."
Now I'm no legal beagle, so maybe someone can tell me where I'm wrong. The way I understand those words, newspapers will not be legally permitted to influence legislation. They will not be legally allowed to endorse any specific political candidate (as this would be "participation in a campaign activity for or against political candidates).
Additionally, there is this paragraph: "Section 501(c)(3) organizations are restricted in how much political and legislative (lobbying) activities they may conduct. For a detailed discussion, see Political and Lobbying Activities. For more information about lobbying activities by charities, see the article Lobbying Issues; for more information about political activities of charities, see the FY-2002 CPE topic Election Year Issues.
I may be completely misunderstanding what I am reading, and I welcome anyone who understands tax law to correct me if I am wrong. Otherwise - I say bring it on! For the first time in American history, print media might be held to a high standard and remain neutral in political debate.