Feds approve Salt Lake Tribune's plan to become nonprofit organization

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SALT LAKE CITY — Extra! Extra! Read all about it: The Salt Lake Tribune will become a nonprofit organization.

The Internal Revenue Service has approved the company’s request to transition from private ownership to nonprofit status, which the Tribune had applied for earlier this year, according to a news release from the company.

“This is a historic moment for The Tribune and a new day for local journalism across the country,” Tribune owner and publisher Paul Huntsman said in the news release. “The IRS approval opens up new possibilities for success for legacy newspapers, and we’re excited to move forward with this solution.”

Huntsman has owned the paper since 2016. He added that the current local newspaper business model is “broken and beyond repair.”

“We needed to find a way to sustain this vital community institution well beyond my ownership, and nonprofit status will help us do that,” Huntsman said.

A board of directors will govern the Tribune after the company transitions to 501(c)(3) nonprofit structure, and will be funded through donations from the community, the news release said.

The Tribune has struggled to generate revenue before and during Huntsman’s tenure as owner.

In 2018, 34 out of 90 people in the paper’s newsroom staff were either laid off or retired. The paper’s website now includes a paywall, which was implemented in January 2018.

The Philadelphia Inquirer and the Tampa Bay Times are the only other metro newspapers owned by a nonprofit, according to Nieman Lab. The Inquirer transitioned to nonprofit status in 2016, and the Times is owned by the Poynter Institute, a nonprofit organization that advocates for and studies journalism.

The Tribune’s journalistic coverage will continue operating similarly as it always has since the paper began in 1871, but the paper’s editorial board will no longer endorse candidates in political races, according to the release.

“The integrity of our reporting and our values as a news organization won’t change, but we will engage with the community in new ways and ask for their support,” Tribune editor Jennifer Napier-Pearce said in the release.

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