(KUTV) — The Salt Lake Tribune could become a nonprofit foundation in 2020.
UtahPolicy.com reported Tuesday that the largest Utah newspaper, owned by the Paul Huntsman family, has filed an application for nonprofit status with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
If granted the status, the newspaper would be the first in the country to go from a for-profit entity to a 501(c)(3) private foundation.
UtahPolicy.com reported that it acquired a copy of an email to Tribune staff that it is expected the IRS will approve the nonprofit application filed one month ago by the first quarter of next year "at the latest."
That referenced email was not able to be shared with 2News for verification after it was requested from the managing editor of the website but it is quoted as stating:
For those who couldn’t attend our impromptu staff meeting today, Paul (Huntsman) announced a new path toward our sustainability. The plan is two-fold: He is creating a nonprofit organization to support independent journalism in Utah; and he is converting The Salt Lake Tribue to a nonprofit organization, a first for a legacy newspaper in the U.S.
The 148-year-old publication confirmed its intent to become a ‘community asset' with a story published online just after 8 p.m. on Tuesday following the UtahPolicy.com report.
In becoming a nonprofit, the Tribune states it will transfer its ownership from Huntsman to a public board so it can accept donations, which it cannot do legally at present.
The impending transition comes less than a year after Huntsman laid off a third of Tribune's staff. According to the Tribune, its newsroom staffing now stands at approximately 60 employees, which is down from nearly 150 in 2011.
The Tribune's application is being reviewed by the IRS and U.S. Department of Justice, which has administered a joint production agreement with the Deseret News that ends next year.
Active negotiations on the agreement that includes shared costs of production, printing, advertising, and distribution are taking place but it is not known how that will affect staffing, operations, and production.
However, the Tribune stated in its article that Managing Editor Jennifer Napier-Pearce will continue to run the newsroom.
Huntsman is additionally quoted as saying, “the role of the board of directors is to make sure the institution has enough resources to do its mission. It’s that straightforward.”
Editor's note: An earlier version of this report stated the Tribune could transition to an online-only publication. A spokesperson sent this statement as clarification:
"There is no plan to go online only in 2020. It is true the JOA expires that year, negotiations between The Tribune and DNews are underway. Moving to nonprofit status doesn't change those negotiations. We intend to print a newspaper as long as it is economically viable and I hope and expect that will be for years to come."