The "save newspapers… from endorsing politicians" act?


U.S. Senator Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD) has introduced legislation that would allow newspapers to become non-profits.

Cardin says the Newspaper Revitalization Act is intended to help the faltering newspaper industry survive.

But there’s a snag: under the act, newspapers would not be allowed to make political endorsements.

They would, however, be allowed to freely report on all issues, including political campaigns.

Advertising and subscription revenue would be tax exempt and contributions to support coverage/operations could be tax deductible.

“The measure is targeted to preserve local newspapers serving communities and not large newspaper conglomerates,” states the press release posted at Cardin’s website.


This is consistent with the practice of other 501c(3) charities who are not allowed to endorse political candidates. If you have the ability to accept tax deductible donations (which is what this act would allow newspapers to do) you shouldn't be allowed to endorse political candidates.

Posted by Manish on Mar. 25, 2009 @ 10:02 pm

This is consistent with other 501c(3) organizations who can accept tax deductible donations and also are not allowed to endorse political candidates. 501c(3)'s are allowed to engage in issue advocacy and take positions on ballot measures and I believe that Cardin's legislation would allow this.

I think its reasonable to say that if you accept tax deductible donations that you shouldn't be allowed to endorse political candidates.

Posted by Manish on Mar. 25, 2009 @ 10:08 pm

Hey Manish,

I agree that if you accept tax deductible donations, you shouldn't be allowed to endorse political candidates.

That's why I'm concerned about this model as a way to save the newspaper industry.

Because if newspapers don't endorse candidates, who will?

Posted by Sarah Phelan on Mar. 26, 2009 @ 5:39 am

The New York Times will still endorse politicians since presumably they won't be in trouble of going out of business any time soon. Beyond that, the usual characters will endorse candidates as they do today..other politicians, political clubs, advocacy groups (i.e. abortion groups, sustainable transportation groups, enviro groups, etc.), prominent people in the community.

Presumably no for-profit entity is going to turn themselves into a non-profit and lose all equity in the venture unless its that or shutting the papers losing their ability to endorse will be those papers who were probably going to die anyway..a newspaper that can't endorse politicians is better than no newspaper at all.

Posted by Manish on Mar. 26, 2009 @ 9:37 pm

You're halfway there,

No corporation, profit or non-profit should be able to endorse (or contribute money or time) to a candidate. All candidates should get equal time in print and electronic media. Let's do away with 'name recognition' being the prime reason for winning candidacies. Let the people read the Voters Guides and candidate literature to actually know them.

The results couldn't be worse.


Posted by h. brown on Mar. 28, 2009 @ 8:18 am