HOME
          
LATEST STORY
Newsonomics: BuzzFeed and The New York Times play Facebook’s ubiquity game
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.
Newsonomics: BuzzFeed and The New York Times play Facebook’s ubiquity game
The ubiquity game has different rules for digital startups than for legacy businesses. But for both, figuring out the right relationship with Facebook is key to their audience strategies.
Jeff Israely: Good content marketing benefits from a smart publisher’s touch
Our startup correspondent, building Worldcrunch in Paris, on the thinking behind its operation’s pivot: “The smart brands know they’ll lose your attention if they use this new publishing power simply to push their merchandise.”
How a hobby foreign affairs blog became a paywalled news destination — and a business
World Politics Review has grown from one man’s side project to a small news operation supported by a niche paywall.
What to read next
2481
tweets
Millennials say keeping up with the news is important to them — but good luck getting them to pay for it
The new report from the Media Insight Project looks at millennials’ habits and attitudes toward news consumption: “I really wouldn’t pay for any type of news because as a citizen it’s my right to know the news.”
926The next stage in the battle for our attention: Our wrists
News companies have moved from print dollars to digital dimes to mobile pennies. Now, with the highly anticipated launch of the Apple Watch, the screens are getting even smaller. How are smart publishers thinking about the right way to serve users and maintain their attention on smartwatches?
729A wave of distributed content is coming — will publishers sink or swim?
Instead of just publishing to their own websites, news organizations are being asked to publish directly to platforms they don’t control. Is the hunt for readers enough to justify losing some independence?
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 Christian Science Monitor
Craigslist
New Jersey Newsroom
Journal Register Co.
I-News
Mozilla
PubliCola
Connecticut Mirror
FactCheck.org
Amazon
BBC News
Sacramento Press