‘The Salt Lake Tribune’ becomes a nonprofit

Utah’s largest newspaper’s new status highlights considerable challenges facing local news outlets

By Lukas I. Alpert | Wall Street Journal

The Salt Lake Tribune, the largest newspaper in Utah, is becoming a nonprofit, marking a new approach in a struggling industry seeking new business models to stay afloat.

The newspaper on Monday said its application had been approved by the Internal Revenue Service. The move comes just three years after the paper was acquired by Paul Huntsman, a member of one of the wealthiest families in the state, underscoring the considerable challenges facing local news outlets as readership and ad dollars have shifted online.

“This is a historic moment for the Tribune and a new day for local journalism around the country,” Mr. Huntsman said. “The IRS approval opens up new possibilities for success for legacy newspapers.”

The Tribune had applied for nonprofit exemption in May. At the time, Mr. Huntsman said he was looking for ways to keep the paper going in “perpetuity.”

The Tribune said it didn’t expect a response from the IRS until at least next year but received a quick approval.

The 148-year-old newspaper will still be allowed to sell advertising and charge a cover price under the new arrangement. It now also will get to accept tax-deductible donations from readers and foundations. The paper will no longer be able to make political endorsements and will be overseen by a nonprofit board of directors.

The business-model shift comes as newspapers, particularly local ones, strain under financial pressure that has driven a wave of consolidation and the closure of hundreds of papers across the country.

A recent Wall Street Journal examination of the U.S. news industry found that local players have suffered sharper declines in circulation than national outlets and greater incursions into their online advertising businesses from tech companies such as Alphabet Inc. ’s Google and Facebook Inc.

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November 2019