Knight Blog

The blog of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Do IRS nonprofit media rules need a digital-age update?

May 3, 2012, 3:36 p.m., Posted by Eric Newton

Funders, nonprofit journalists and academics gathered this week at the Council on Foundations convention in Los Angeles to discuss challenges nonprofit news outlets face in getting charitable 501c3 status. It’s part of a project called the Nonprofit Media Working Group, a partnership between Knight Foundation and the Council.

The working group is chaired by Steve Waldman, senior media policy scholar at Columbia University. Waldman was the lead author of the first major government report in a generation on the state of local news. Among the findings of that FCC report are that IRS nonprofit media rules appear out of date and thus unhelpful to the growing field.

Steve Waldmann

On Monday night, Waldman moderated a foundation convention panel to discuss the issue. Attendees watched a HDTV segment from Dan Rather Reports outlining the story of Public Press, a small San Francisco news outlet that has been seeking nonprofit status for more than two years.

The Rather segment reported the growth of nonprofit media. It speculated that the IRS may be confused or overwhelmed by the nonprofit digital media requests, noting that the rules under which the IRS grants nonprofit media status were created long before the internet. Rather’s story did not interview any IRS officials; the service issued a statement saying it could not comment on the specifics of any single case. It said when it receives “novel” applications, they get special consideration.

Welcoming more voices in fight for media freedom

May 2, 2012, 5:15 p.m., Posted by Amy Starlight Lawrence



A map showing 2012 World Press Freedom Day events around the world

Freedom of expression advocates are gathering over the next few days to consider the state of media freedom and its future as part of the annual World Press Freedom Day.

This year’s focus is on bringing new voices to the efforts around media freedom. The events, taking place all over the world but hosted in Tunis, Tunisia, are organized by UNESCO – United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. It includes partners such as IREX, the U.S. Department of State and the Open Society Foundations.

Knight Foundation's role this year includes helping five World Press Freedom Day Fellows attend events in Tunis so they can participate, blog and tweet.

“These are people who persevere in the face of limited resources, personal danger, and bad laws to make a difference in citizens’ access to information – but who don’t regularly get to interact with international counterparts and gain skills and strength from sharing their experiences,” said Drusilla Menaker, senior media advisor at IREX.

Here’s more information on each of the fellows. Check back over the next few days as we’ll be embedding links to their live blogs from Tunis.

·      Justin Arenstein, South Africa, @justinarenstein

Silicon Valley reading program engages community through open dialogue

May 2, 2012, 4:28 p.m., Posted by Elizabeth R. Miller

Each year Silicon Valley Reads hosts dozens of free public events at libraries, schools and community locations. This year, the program engaged more than 8,000 residents who collectively participated in nearly 104 public events and 12 additional events held at local schools.


The video highlighting the kickoff event for 2012 is available above. This year’s theme was “Muslim and American – Two Perspectives.” The featured books were Butterfly Mosque, by G. Willow Wilson and The Muslim Next Door by Sumbul Ali-Karamali.

Knight Program Director in San Jose/Silicon Valley Judith Kleinberg with author G. Willow Wilson at the Silicon Valley Reads kick-off event judy

The events are intended to spark conversations that lead to exchanging perspectives. They also help build a sense of community through open dialogue, support educational goals and promote lifelong learning.

Silicon Valley Reads is sponsored by Knight Foundation and other community organizations. It is presented by The Santa Clara County Office of Education, the Santa Clara County Library and the San Jose Public Library Foundation.

The Mercury News recently cited the success of the three month-long series noting its major supporters “must be pleased with their investment.” Earlier this year, it also wrote an editorial, noting how this year's theme was helping to tackle prejudices against Muslims.

This year’s event marks the program’s 10th anniversary.