VIDEO PRESENTATION: Can an Innovative Corporate Structure Save Local Journalism?
Posted on May 18th, 2016

by Monica Gorny and Morgan Haas; edited by Courtney Chlebina

Earlier this spring, the Media and Communications Law Society hosted a lunchtime talk on the impact of the Philadelphia Inquirer’s recently-announced corporate/nonprofit restructuring. This panel featured Richard Fox, a partner at Dilworth Paxson; Benjamin Bolas, an associate at Dilworth Paxson; and David Boardman who is Dean of the School of Media and Communication at Temple University and a board member for the Institute of Journalism and New Media.

Mr. Fox introduced the topic by providing insight into why the Philadelphia Inquirer was given to the Institute of Journalism and New Media, a partner of the Philadelphia Foundation. By virtue of this joint venture, the Philadelphia Inquirer was qualified to receive tax-exempt status without the restrictions of a tax-exempt organization, like the prohibition on engaging in political activities. This structure allowed for “the best of both worlds” because it gave the Inquirer the flexibility of a “for profit” corporation while receiving charitable grants that are used to benefit the public interest.

While the Institute of Journalism and New Media has not formally met, Dean Boardman spoke about its future. The institute was designed to ensure the survival of journalism, and he hopes it will raise enough money in order to make a difference. The money will be used to invest in research development and innovation to fuel the digital transformation. Rather than focusing on traditional journalism, Dean Boardman believes they should fund things that represent real changes in audience engagement, audience expansion, and using new technologies. He wants the institute to take Philadelphia journalism “to the other side.”

The event provided attendees with an overview of the changes necessary for newspapers and journalism to survive in the digital age.

Watch the presentation here.