The Salt Lake Tribune is seeking to become a nonprofit organization. Why? According to owner and publisher Paul Huntsman, it’s because the newspaper’s business model isn’t working. Years of financial losses have resulted in repeated layoffs at the paper, and two years of investments since Huntsman acquired the Tribune from the hedge fund Alden Global Capital haven’t changed its fortunes. Complicating the situation further, revisions to a Joint Operating Agreement with the rival Deseret News significantly handicapped the Tribune.
Public Art depicting a newsboy on the side of the Tribune building in downtown Salt Lake City (Roger McDonough | KCPW)
Of course, the Tribune isn’t alone in this struggle. According to a report by the University of North Carolina, 1,800 U.S. newspapers have vanished since 2004. Not helping the problem: most Americans (incorrectly) think their local news media are doing well financially.
Executives at the Tribune hope that taking the paper nonprofit will make a difference. They believe the strategy could even serve as a model for other newspapers around the country. If the move is approved by the IRS, what will a nonprofit Tribune look like? How will it be funded? And how long will the print edition survive?
Jennifer Napier-Pearce, Editor, The Salt Lake Tribune
Fraser Nelson, Tribune Vice President of Business Innovation
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