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Nonprofit media report

March 11, 2013 in Policy, Resources

Over the last several decades, accountability reporting, especially at the local level, has contracted dramatically, with potentially grave consequences for communities, government responsiveness, and democracy. Nonprofit media has the potential to partly fill this vacuum but faces obstacles as a result of outdated IRS rules.

A report by the Nonprofit Media Working Group (NMWG) of the Council on Foundations [led by Steven Waldman], “The IRS and Nonprofit Media: Toward Creating a More Informed Public,” makes specific recommendations to the IRS that maintain essential distinctions between for-profit and nonprofit media but remove obstacles to the types of innovation that are needed to fill the gaps in nonprofit news, especially accountability journalism.

The report highlights five key problems with the current IRS approach:

  1. Applications for tax-exempt status are processed inconsistently and take too long. …
  2. The IRS approach appears to undervalue journalism. …
  3. The IRS approach appears to inhibit the long-term sustainability of tax-exempt media organizations. …
  4. Confusion may be inhibiting nonprofit entrepreneurs trying to address the information needs of communities. …
  5. The IRS approach does not sufficiently recognize the changing nature of digital media.”
    Source: Council on Foundations


The report looks at the experience of nonprofit media like The San Francisco Public Press, The Lens, The Chicago News Cooperative, and others, to diagnose problems in the IRS pipeline. The major ones: the lengthy and inconsistent process for granting tax-exempt status; confusion among current nonprofits over how they can conduct business; and a failure by the IRS to recognize how old distinctions between nonprofit and commercial media have been changed by new technology.

… The report recommends the IRS update its methodology for granting tax-exempt status by focusing on how media organizations provide a community benefit as well as discounting operational similarities between nonprofits and for-profits. Knight, Ford, and the Foundation Center also plan to work with Guidestar to create a better system to create a comprehensive database of nonprofit news sites and track the creation of new ones.” Source: Justin Ellis, Nieman Journalism Lab

Free Press

September 21, 2011 in Craft, Education, Policy, Resources

Free Press is a national, nonpartisan, nonprofit organization working to reform the media. Through education, organizing and advocacy, we promote diverse and independent media ownership, strong public media, quality journalism and universal access to communications.

Our Purpose

Media play a huge role in our lives. TV, radio, the Internet, movies, books and newspapers inform and influence our ideas, opinions, values and beliefs. They shape our understanding of the world and give us the information we need to hold our leaders accountable. But our media system is failing.

This failure isn’t natural. For far too long, corrupt media policy has been made behind closed doors in the public’s name but without our informed consent. If we want better media, we need better media policies. If we want better policies, we must engage more people in policy debates and demand better media.

That’s why Free Press was created. We’re working to make media reform a bona fide political issue in America. Powerful telecommunications, cable and broadcasting companies have plenty of lobbyists to do their bidding. We’re making sure the public has a seat at the table, and we’re building a movement to make sure the media serve the public interest.

Free Press believes that media reform is crucial not just for creating better news and entertainment, but to advancing every issue you care about. A vibrant, diverse and independent media is the cornerstone of a healthy democracy.” Source:

Free Press Campaigns:

Save the News

“, a project of Free Press, is leading the search for new public policies to promote a robust free press in America. is a campaign to fight for better media in our communities. We are working to support innovative, quality journalism; to create a first-class public media system; to promote diverse and local media ownership that serves our communities; and to involve the American people in the process.

Journalism is a vital public good — not just another commodity. The Founders understood that an informed and engaged public was crucial to a healthy democracy; that’s why the press enjoys special protection in the First Amendment. However, the modern media culture bears only a faint resemblance to the vigorous and diligent press the Founders envisioned. The challenge before us is to identify the structures and policies that can help rebuild our media.” Source:


Change the Channels

“Media consolidation is a dangerous problem, reducing the number of independent sources of news—that’s why there are rules to control it. But media companies have devised a way around those rules, and are pursuing profits at the expense of the communities they’re supposed to serve. “Covert consolidation” takes many forms, but the results are the same: Media companies pad their bottom line by sacrificing local journalism, competition and diversity. In many cases, one news team produces a single newscast for multiple stations. The result: less news about your community and fewer journalists holding our leaders accountable.

Worst of all, stations claim they don’t have to report these deals to anyone.

At, you can join with others in your community to demand change at the local level. Help uncover these dirty deals; submit video and information to our national database; and take action to pressure local broadcasters. Together we’ll build a case against covert consolidation that the Federal Communications Commission won’t be able to ignore.” Source:


Save the Internet

“The Coalition is two million everyday people who have banded together with thousands of nonprofit organizations, businesses and bloggers to protect Internet freedom.

The Coalition believes that the Internet is a crucial engine for economic growth, civic engagement and free speech. We’re working together to preserve Net Neutrality, the First Amendment of the Internet, which ensures that the Internet remains open to new ideas, innovation and voices.

Because of Net Neutrality, the Internet has always been a level playing field. People everywhere can have their voices heard by thousands, even millions, of others online. The Coalition wants our leaders in Washington to pass strong Net Neutrality protections. We’re calling on the president, Congress and the Federal Communications Commission to stand with the public and keep the Internet open.” Source: