Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) has a possible bailout plan that may work for troubled newspapers. He is proposing to allow newspapers to operate as non-profits, able to enjoy the full benefits of non-taxation and charitable contributions in order to stay afloat. The loss would be the ability to endorse political candidates but would otherwise operate as they do now. Opinion is mixed on the proposal – some newspapers may be beyond such help, and there are doubts that the model would work at all.
RBR/TVBR observation: One concern is that an entity which relies on the government for its very survival might not be quite the effective watchdog that American’s hope for from the Fourth Estate. On the other hand, a lot of non-profits are explicitly ideological or political, so perhaps a path that can accommodate both a boost from the government and editorial autonomy can be found. Stay tuned.