Sunday, March 1, 2009

Decline of newspapers renews idea of nonprofits

As sharp revenue reductions put the future of many U.S. newspapers in doubt, one idea gaining attention is the conversion of newspapers into tax-exempt nonprofits supported by large endowments.

Although viewed by many as a long shot at best, such a radical change could be a savior for the industry and its vital role in a democracy.

That's why the endowment model is drawing renewed attention as newspapers impose massive layoffs, scale back home delivery and make other drastic cuts to counter plunging advertising revenue amid a recession that has compounded struggles from the migration of readers to the Internet.

David Swensen, who managed one of the world's largest endowments as chief investment officer at Yale University, said endowments "would enhance newspapers' autonomy while shielding them from the economic forces that are now tearing them down."


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