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ASHEVILLE — Carolina Public Press — Western North Carolina’s only online news service focused on unbiased, in-depth and investigative reporting and educational opportunities for journalists, students and others in the 18 westernmost counties of the state — has earned its independent nonprofit status from the Internal Revenue Service.
“We are excited to have passed the nonprofit requirements of the IRS because it a critical benchmark in our efforts to build a sustainable high-quality nonprofit journalism organization located in the mainly rural Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina,” said Executive Director and Editor Angie Newsome. “This will enable us to pursue further funding and consider moving our business operations to Asheville, where our editorial, content and training programs have been based since we launched three years ago. ”
Carolina Public Press launched in March 2011 as a fiscally sponsored project of the award-winning media institute, The Institute for Southern Studies, which is based in Durham, N.C. While Newsome and a group of advisers and board of directors in Western North Carolina always managed and implemented the organization’s editorial direction and mission, the Institute provided critical operational support, including the providing the organization with accounting and bookkeeping services and the ability to build its own base of foundations and donors who support the Carolina Public Press with their charitable giving.
Carolina Public Press went on to incorporate in 2012 and submit its application for its educational nonprofit status with the IRS in April 2013. On May 5, Carolina Public Press received notice that its status was approved by the IRS.
Nonprofit journalism-based organizations are a relatively new development in the nonprofit sector. Though some have been in existence since the 1970s or earlier, the number of nonprofit news organizations began to notably increase in the early 2000s.
“Amid the disruption of traditional local journalism in the United States, emerging nonprofit news organizations promise to fill important community information gaps – if they can sustain themselves,” wrote the Knight Foundation in its 2013 report, “Getting Local: How Nonprofit News Ventures Seek Sustainability.”
Carolina Public Press recently hired Tara George as its development assistant and the consulting firm Taproot Consulting to develop a long-term sustainability plan. They will be aided by a group of award-winning editors and freelance journalists and a 10-person board of directors, which includes regional experts in nonprofit management and fundraising, media, finance and law, in implementing the organization’s sustainability programs.
The organization anticipates the business operation transition to be completed by June 1, 2014. Carolina Public Press also sought assistance in learning about the status of its nonprofit application from Sen. Richard Burr’s office.