Local newspapers could gain charitable status

The Government is being urged to allow newspapers to gain charitable status.

According to a report on the Third Sector website, a group of ‘journalists, academics and charitable funders’will ask the Department for Culture, Media and Sport to make it easier for charitable trusts and foundations to fund not-for-profit local newspapers.

They are due to meet with departments officials next month. According to Third Sector one of the ideas being considered is to ask the Charity Commission to make it easier for local newspapers to gain charitable status to “help them attract funding from trusts and foundations”.

At present the commission does not recognise the provision of news as a charitable activity, the report said.

The meeting is being organised by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism (RISJ) and Polis and has been timed to coincide with the release of a new RSIJ report called ‘Is There a Better Structure for News Providers? The Potential in Charitable and Trust Ownership’.

RISJ director of research told Third Sector:

A number of foundations have indicated they would invest in local newspapers and news websites, particularly in those areas of the UK where there is little or no local news coverage at present.

He added:

At the moment the Charity Commission doesn’t recognise the provision of news as an educational activity that would merit charitable status, and of course there are issues around whether a charitable newspaper could take a political stance.
I don’t think these problems are insurmountable, and I hope that at the meeting we will start to find a way around them.



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