There are successful examples today that closely resemble what I have proposed. Newspapers taking advantage of this nonprofit structure would operate in a manner similar to a local public broadcasting station or National Public Radio.
PBS stations nationwide and NPR are independent entities that produce award-winning, in-depth, and relevant programs that inform us about the world and our community. They rely overwhelmingly on funds from private supporters who believe in the goal of educating the public and enjoy a tax deduction for their donations. Nonprofit status has not caused the government to interfere in the editorial judgments of public television and radio broadcasters.
Conversion to nonprofit status may not be the optimal choice for some newspapers—particularly those that rely on a significant revenue stream—but it does provide an alternative business model that may help keep many newspapers operating. I am confident that there are local citizens or foundations in communities across the nation that would be willing and able to step in and preserve their local newspaper. Newspapers provide a vital service, and it is in the interest of our nation and good governance that we ensure they survive.
Benjamin L. Cardin, a Democratic senator from Maryland, was a member of the House from 1987 to 2006.