Several years ago, the Law Firm for Non-Profits obtained exemption for an online investigative newspaper. Despite this exemption, a print newspaper was still unsure as to whether the IRS would recognize it as exempt under section 501(c)(3).
After 2 ½ years, the IRS has answered this question in the affirmative. Last month the IRS issued a determination for the San Francisco Public Press.
The exemption review process normally takes six months (though currently is taking almost a year). So why did it take 2 ½ years to review the San Francisco Public Press application? For centuries, newspapers have operated under a for-profit business model. But as the Internet has changed all media, it has become increasingly difficult for newspapers to make money. The Public Press is one of a growing number of newspapers that now seek to re-envision the newspaper as a nonprofit enterprise.
With the IRS agreeing that newspapers can operate as 501(c)(3) organizations, undoubtedly many will adopt this business model.