Anniston, Alabama Owners to Establish Non-Profit FoundationBack to News

Owners of the Anniston Star and the Talladega Daily Home in Alabama recently announced a plan to secure local ownership of the dailies well into the future by establishing a non-profit educational foundation for community journalism that will eventually own all of the stock in the newspapers’ parent company.

While details of the estate plan are still being worked out, it anticipates setting up an education foundation through a joint venture with the University of Alabama that will provide a unique masters program for community journalism, said H. Brandt Ayers, publisher of the Star and part owner of the company. Ayers said journalism professors would use The Star as a “teaching hospital” and graduate students would have access to The Star as a training ground while earning credits toward a degree.

The Star (daily circulation 26,422) and Daily Home (daily circulation 9,872) are owned jointly by Ayers and his sister, Elise Ayers Sanguinetti. The plan calls for the foundation to buy the holdings of Mr. Ayers and Mrs. Sanguinetti upon their deaths.

Similar estate plans have been set up at a handful of U.S. dailies, with the aim in every case of preserving local ownership while providing an ongoing service to the community or newspaper industry. One notable example is the St. Petersburg Times’ Poynter Institute, which provides journalism training and education for the industry.

Other newspapers currently operating under non-profit status include the Manchester (NH) Union Leader; the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal of Tupelo; and Independent Newspapers, owners of the Delaware State News of Dover, and the Cambridge (MD) Banner.

Section 501(c)3 of the federal tax code allows organizations whose primary activities provide financial support to non-profits to qualify for non-profit status.