HOME
          
LATEST STORY
The newsonomics of MLB’s pioneering mobile experience
ABOUT                    SUBSCRIBE
April 3, 2012, 2:25 p.m.
nflcc

Nonprofit status: A maybe for news orgs, a yes for the NFL

While countless news organizations wait to get 501(c)(3) approval from the IRS, the NFL is doing well as a not-for-profit.

I like football, so I was interested in this piece over at Pro Football Talk that details the salary of National Football League commissioner Roger Goodell. (That’s $11,554,000 — not bad.) But then I was surprised to see that this information came from the NFL’s just-filed Form 990.

Wait — 990? As in, the form nonprofits are required to file once a year?

Yep. At a time when civic-minded news organizations are battling for recognition from the IRS — in some cases waiting more then two years to hear whether they’ll be allowed to be nonprofits — the NFL is a not-for-profit. Filing 990s and everything. (Here’s a link to the NFL on Guidestar. The league describes itself as a “trade association promoting interests of its 32 member clubs.”)

Technically, the NFL isn’t a 501(c)(3) — that allows orgs that “Foster National or International Amateur Sports Competition.” It’s a 501(c)(6), “Business Leagues, Chambers of Commerce, Real Estate Boards, etc.” And NFL teams themselves aren’t tax-exempt. But the NFL proper still managed to rake in $207 million in 2009, a number that’s no doubt grown since then.

I’m sure there are good legal reasons why the NFL is a nonprofit. But this isn’t the Nieman Football Lab. (Interesting take from Brian Frederick here. And this paper by lawyer Andrew Delaney argues the NFL is a “glorified tax shelter.”)

The future-of-journalism point here is that the NFL has found a spot in the vagaries of the tax code — a defined niche in which they can fit. Journalism doesn’t have that kind of a spot, as we’ve explored. I just wish the IRS could find a way to give dozens of small, community-oriented news organizations the same sort of status as one of America’s most successful companies.

Image by Jonathan Moreau used under a Creative Commons license.

POSTED     April 3, 2012, 2:25 p.m.
SHARE THIS STORY
   
Show comments  
Show tags
 
Join the 15,000 who get the freshest future-of-journalism news in our daily email.
The newsonomics of MLB’s pioneering mobile experience
Running a sports league and running a news operation aren’t the same thing. But there are lessons to be learned from baseball’s success in navigating mobile.
Why The New York Times built a tool for crowdsourced time travel
Madison, a new tool that asks readers to help identify ads in the Times archives, is part of a new open source platform for crowdsourcing built by the company’s R&D Lab.
Opening up the archives: JSTOR wants to tie a library to the news
Its new site JSTOR Daily highlights interesting research and offers background and context on current events.
What to read next
1020
tweets
The newsonomics of the millennial moment
The new wave of news startups is aiming at a younger audience. But do legacy media companies have a chance at earning their attention?
803A mixed bag on apps: What The New York Times learned with NYT Opinion and NYT Now
The two apps were part of the paper’s plan to increase digital subscribers through smaller, targeted offerings. Now, with staff cutbacks on the way, one app is being shuttered and the other is being adjusted.
413The new Vox daily email, explained
The company’s newsletter, Vox Sentences, enters an increasingly crowded inbox. Can concise writing and smart aggregation on the day’s news help expand their audience?
These stories are our most popular on Twitter over the past 30 days.
See all our most recent pieces ➚
Encyclo is our encyclopedia of the future of news, chronicling the key players in journalism’s evolution.
Here are a few of the entries you’ll find in Encyclo.   Get the full Encyclo ➚
The Seattle Times
The Sunlight Foundation
American Public Media
Ushahidi
Vox Media
The Wall Street Journal
Talking Points Memo
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Grist
New York
Spot.Us
Poynter Institute