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Non-Profit may describe a newspaper’s balance sheet, but it does not describe its tax status, unless of course, if Senator Benjamin Cardin( D-Md.) gets his way.  The Senator introduced a bill on the Senate floor today that would allow newspapers to elect to receive tax-exempt status all they have to do is promise not to endorse any political candidates (but they can report on the campaign):

Advertising and subscription revenue would be tax-exempt, and contributions to support coverage could be tax deductible.

Cardin said in a statement that the bill is aimed at preserving local newspapers, not large newspaper conglomerates.

“We are losing our newspaper industry,” said Cardin. “The economy has caused an immediate problem, but the business model for newspapers, based on circulation and advertising revenue, is broken, and that is a real tragedy for communities across the nation and for our democracy.”

Cardin said his proposal may not be the best choice for some major newspapers, but “should be an option for many newspapers that are struggling to stay afloat.”  “As local papers are closing, we’re losing a valuable tradition in America—critically important to our communities, critically important to our democracy.” Source

 There are some major problems with the Cardin proposal;

  • This is nothing more than a “fancy” bailout. Besides the fact that newspapers are generally biased toward the liberal point of view, why should we “bail them out.”
  • Cardin’s assumption that the regular political reporting is unbiased, proves that he is either naive, or that he was abducted by aliens and missed the entire 2008 Campaign.
  • There is a reason that these newspapers are failing, they are not addressing the  needs of their readers. Newspapers tend to have a liberal slant, it is no coincidence that they are going the way of liberal talk radio. Readers are tired of the bias, and now they can get their sports scores on line.
  • While the number of newspapers (and readers) have fallen, the number of news sources has grown, including the internet, cable news, and radio. Maybe they should concentrate on giving straight news instead of op-eds made to look like reporting.

Lets hope that this “bailout” is rejected.

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