May 27, 2010; Source: Contra Costa Times | Although described by the Contra Costa Times as a nonprofit, the new ownership of the Point Reyes Light has structured the newspaper as a low profit limited liability corporation (L3C) charted by the state of Vermont—despite the paper’s location in California. More specifically, according to the paper’s website, the ownership is the L3C Point Reyes Light Publishing Co. which is owned by the nonprofit Marin Media Institute (or at least the Institute has applied for its 501(c)(3) status).
The group that arranged for the purchase and reorganization of this newspaper involved some of the nation’s—and our sector’s—better known writers and activists, including Mark Dowie, author of American Foundations: An Investigative History, in 2002, and Norman Solomon, founder of the Institute for Public Accuracy. So far, donors have contributed $350,000 to start the effort (one of the donors is Susie Tompkins Buell, the founder and co-owner of Esprit clothing).
Will the L3C structure generate more money than simply having the nonprofit purchase and own the paper? Truth is, the concept of the L3C aims to tap foundation program related investments (PRIs) that otherwise would generally be restricted to nonprofit recipients. Marin County is an extremely wealthy area capable of supporting this new hybrid nonprofit/for-profit news outlet. Realistically speaking, this paper, or any paper, requires a lot more money than the Light has raised to date—and it will need to keep generating substantial revenues annually to survive.—Rick Cohen