One other For-Revenue Information Supply Goes Nonprofit

“Fauquier Occasions Democrat signal,” Heather Paul

November 12, 2019; Fauquier Now

One more for-profit information web site has determined to go nonprofit. This time, it’s in Virginia, the place Piedmont Media, the proprietor of the Fauquier Occasions, will promote the small native media group to the Piedmont Journalism Basis for a nominal $1,000.

The sale, which has been below dialogue for months, will embody not solely the Fauquier Occasions, but in addition the Prince William Occasions, a couple of specialty magazines, and their associated web sites. This comes after a interval of three years, throughout which $2 million was invested into the entity.

NPQ stays considerably mystified—not by information businesses transitioning from for-profit to nonprofit, however by the assumption held by a few of these entities that their nonprofit standing will make them extra financially sustainable, that it’s going to enhance their enterprise fashions. That notion appears to be current on this scenario, because it was within the case of the Salt Lake Tribune. We didn’t fairly get it there, and we get it even much less right here, the place capital seems to be at a premium. One presumes the brand new standing will forestall the operation to be starved into irrelevance by grasping traders, and that at all times helps, although such hunger doesn’t seem like the case right here.

If, as we’re gathering, nonetheless, media teams intend to bolster their budgets by way of soliciting philanthropic cash, we hope they’re going into it understanding that beginning a donor program is neither straightforward nor quick—particularly the place there isn’t any historical past of that income stream.

Landon Butler, who headed Piedmont Media’s board, says the managers and a majority of shareholders agreed the switch can be in each the corporate’s and the neighborhood’s finest curiosity. Butler does seem to imagine the flexibility to obtain public donations will make a distinction.

Stockholders solely discovered concerning the proposed switch final week, and every of them will likely be requested to signal consent paperwork connected to a memo that particulars the difficult enterprise setting for media teams.

One investor, Les Cheek, says the memo principally “consisted of what everyone knows, which is the headwinds for print journalism are very sturdy in a unfavourable course.”

“Principally,” Cheek says, “the traders and managers had principally exhausted their capability to lift any extra funds for the paper in its present enterprise mannequin.”

Newspaper promoting by itself has, declined over the previous 20 years from $50 billion to $14 billion immediately.

“The one factor that stands out” concerning the memo, Cheek mentioned, “was the absence of financials. However I feel the narrative itself makes it clear that the paper is not only between a rock and a tough place, however basically on verge of going below.”

The memo described the paper as “in a precarious monetary situation, nearly actually working week to week primarily based on the administration of receivables.” Nonetheless, Cheek says recouping their monetary investments could also be low on stakeholders’ listing of priorities:

In the event you had been to ask 75 p.c or 80 p.c of those that initially backed (the acquisition) why they did it, they’d all let you know that it was completely important to have an area newspaper for the sake of preserving tabs on what authorities was doing and to maintain folks in the neighborhood knowledgeable of what was occurring.

Thus, this paper was possible already as near a nonprofit as one may get—collectively stewarded with cash that was basically, although not legally, donated. That is clearly one other mannequin to regulate as they start to forge a brand new path.—Ruth McCambridge

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