Nieman Foundation at Harvard
HOME
          
LATEST STORY
A Swiss publisher is trying to attract a paying audience with an app sampling stories across publications
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.
A Swiss publisher is trying to attract a paying audience with an app sampling stories across publications
Tamedia’s 12-App collects the 12 best stories each day from the company’s 20-plus publications.
What does it take to be a “full-service” digital journalism organization? Ask Discourse Media
“We’ve gone down lots of experimental rabbit holes.”
Spain’s Eldiario.es has 18,000 paying members, and its eye on the next several million
“We have a potential of six million readers. You may not convince all six million people to be your socios, but if you learn more about their interests, you can get closer.”
What to read next
0
tweets
Hoping to redefine “trade publication,” Digiday launches Glossy, a vertical to cover disruption in fashion
“I hate the term ‘trade publication,’ because it implies being a boring cheerleader for the industry.”
0Chasing subscriptions over scale, The Athletic wants to turn local sports fandom into a sustainable business — starting in Chicago
“It’s very easy today to be click-driven and produce articles that don’t have a lot of substance or depth and don’t cost that much to produce, but that dynamic is disappointing for fans who want higher-quality content.”
0A year in at Vox, Recode looks at its future: Video, distributed content, more podcasts, and no /
“There’s a huge opportunity to be a widely read, digitally native business site that uses tech as our lens, and I don’t think that’s out there.”
These stories are our most popular on Twitter over the past 30 days.
See all our most recent pieces ➚
Fuego is our heat-seeking Twitter bot, tracking the links the future-of-journalism crowd is talking about most on Twitter.
Here are a few of the top links Fuego’s currently watching.   Get the full Fuego ➚
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 ➚
Conde Nast
MSNBC
The New Yorker
New Haven Independent
FiveThirtyEight
Sports Illustrated
Outside.in
Examiner.com
West Seattle Blog
Seattle PostGlobe
Bureau of Investigative Journalism
NBC News