If it wasn't for banks and carmakers, the big news would be the prospective demise of the newspaper as we know it. U.S Senator Benjamin L. Cardin (Democrat, Maryland), thinks he has an answer, however.
On March 24, 2009, he introduced legislation that would allow newspapers to become non-profit organizations, in an effort to help the faltering industry survive.
As he points out in a press release, over the last few weeks we have been bombarded with bad news about the folks who produce the news that we folks read. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, the Rocky Mountain News, the Baltimore Examiner, and the San Francisco Chronicle are several of the warmly familiar names that have fallen by the wayside, and the Tribune company has filed for bankruptcy.
His Newspaper Revitalization Act would help by making it easier to switch to non-profit status. His plan is that local financial moguls (if there are any left) or even members of the public who can still spare a few dimes should fund endowments for their local newspapers, aided by tax breaks in exchange for restrictions on political partisanship. Under this arrangement, newspapers would not be allowed to make political endorsements -- a custom which, I must admit, is very foreign to this New Zealander -- but would be able to report freely on political campaigns.
Advertizing and subscription monies would be tax exempt, and contributions to the endowments would be tax deductible.
A good idea, or a bad one?