Posts Tagged ‘Mother Jones’

Friday dog day with Mingus the Super Dog 8 Jan 2010

9 January 2010

A walk at the end of the day w Mingus the Super Dog cleared the brain and eased the soul. Here is the noble canine, after we’ve come down the hill. I spent most of the walk thinking about journalism and politics, and questions of balancing independence with strategic focus.

And just now, watched David Corn and Kevin Drum do a superb job talking with Bill Moyers, breaking down the story in our current issue on why and how the banking industry has “intellectually (as well as politically) captured Washington pols. A great show. Really feeling tonight all the pride and honor of working with guys like these – and the rest of the MoJo team.

my new offi-cle. Or is it cub-ice?

30 December 2009

Hopefully not a sign of the Peter Principle at work. New work space, with a door that locks, but walls that leave a six foot gap to the ceiling.And a window out to the fire escape that doesn’t lock (but does open: yay. fresh air!)

Mingus the Super Dog: he’s back!

11 December 2009

And he’s wishing everyone a Happy Hanukah!

As for me – it’s been a slow time here at Maimonides Ladder the past couple of months – my attention/energy/thinking cap has been focused elsewhere. Particularly with changes at MoJo, with Madeleine Buckingham and me taking on lead management roles in early November as Jay Harris, after 19 years, stepped back. Not to mention putting a budget for next year together. And all that end of year fundraising. And a fantastic event in NYC with Mark Bittman. It’s not over yet, but it feels like we’re reached the top of the anxiety curve. Couple of posts in the works…

It’s been quite a year, though.

Hasn’t it, Mingus?

My (belated!) response to Digidave’s video on Spot.us and MoJo…

28 June 2009

I’ve been a doofus:  Dave Cohn posted a video in response to this back at the end of May, and I promised I’d get a reply back to him asap. One hardware crash and MoJo board meeting later, I’m finally able to get into a conversation with him about Spot.us, Mother Jones, non profit journalism etc. (sorry Dave!) mainly because here I am 39,000 feet in the air headed to #PDF09, and finally have some quality time to do just that (although for the sake of my seat mates, no video…).

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MoJo v the IRS and what it might mean for non profit newspapers

15 June 2009

Update 15 June 09: Rich Schmalbeck (who is on the Duke law faculty, btw) emailed me his comments on my post re MoJo v. IRS. With his okay, here’s what he said:

The Technical Advice Memorandum that turned the tide in your case has almost certainly been published, though I didn’t look to verify that.  These are documents prepared by the IRS Chief Counsel’s Office, at the request of either a taxpayer or a field office of the IRS, in the context of an audit that raises difficult legal questions.  They had long been completely private, but a Freedom of Information Act suit sometime in the 1970s compelled their disclosure, but with information that might identify the taxpayer redacted.  They are typically not reviewed at the highest levels of the IRS or Treasury, and so are specifically not intended to establish precedent, but are merely supposed to resolve the issues with respect to a particular taxpayer.  But now that they are routinely published, lawyers do consult them, and do sometimes cite them, though with the understanding that a court may not accord them much weight.

I think the Mother Jones Tech Advice is helpful in this issue, but I’m not as sanguine as you seem to be in this piece that it answers all the questions the IRS might raise about a regular, full-service daily newspaper.  Mother Jones is more like Harpers, Commentary, and the like, than it is like the Chicago Tribune.  And my sense from talking with people in the industry is that while they would like to continue publication of at least some newspapers within a nonprofit framework, they would like nearly every other aspect of publication to remain the same.  And that’s where the IRS may say that the operation is not sufficiently distinguishable from an ordinary commercial enterprise to justify tax-exempt status.  But we’ll see.  In the long run, I think the IRS is going to lose on this question of exempt purpose.  But you are quite correct in thinking that no single newspaper wants to head down a road that might involve an IRS audit, followed by litigation in the Tax Court, and ultimately perhaps up to the Court of Appeals level.  So it would certainly make things easier if Congress would simply enact legislation clarifying that newspaper publication was a suitable exempt purpose, period.  But my understanding is that the bill that would do that isn’t making much progress.

A few days ago, I said I would come back to one specific item from the Duke conference a while back on non profit media, so here goes. It’s triggered by an issue raised in a paper prepped for the conference by Rich Schmalbeck, “Financing the American Newspaper in the Twenty-First Century.” Turns out that a battle royale Mother Jones went through with the Reagan-era IRS has some relevance today. It might point to a way to deal w/the IRS for newspapers and other publications looking to convert to non profit status.

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Friday dog (and cats, and frog) days 12 June 2009

12 June 2009

You know this look, right? Mingus the Super Dog is doing his “get-yer-fricken-shoes-on-and-let’s-get-going” hairy canine eyeball thing…can I just explain that I slept a little later than usual today – the typical Friday morning reaction following a Mother Jones board meeting marathon? P1030101

Which by the way was a great couple of days, devoted to thinking about opportunities, new projects, how to respond to the crazy world of journalism, but also about what to do if things don’t quite work out the way we want them to…really good conversation with our board (unsung heros!) and terrific presentation from Ludivoc and Jim from Insight’s Closing the Wealth Gap Initiative.

Meanwhile, over at the mother ship, our new gang of incredibly overqualified interns are giving Kevin Drum’s Friday catblogging a run for the money with their “This Week In Frog.”  And we have a winner: the judges have determined that our frog’s new name is Mudraker.

A big smushy kiss to Mother Jones, and thinking about success, however modest.

15 May 2009

smushykissI’ve written posts about some other organizations since I started Maimonides Ladder, so I thought this might be an okay time to say a few words about the Mother Ship, my employer. It also happens that I sent in an application today for a scholarship to attend this summer’s Stanford Publishing Course (at $3950 plus food and lodging, it’s not as if this non profit lifer has the cash to plunk down for a week down on The Farm – and MoJo definitely doesn’t, either).  As part of the application, they asked for a 1000 words describing how Mother Jones “is innovating to create, promote or deliver content for a digital future.”

Hmmm. I swallowed some happy pills (trust me, it’s not all sweetness and light, and the future is looking simultaneously thrilling and terrifying), and this is part of what I wrote (with my commenting function switching on):

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