Times are tough in the newspaper industry. Its business model is under pressure from the Internet, as more and more people get their news and look for classifieds online. Throw in the sharp downtown in the economy, and the result is that several major papers have folded or filed for Chapter 11.
Senator Ben Cardin wants to stop the bleeding through proposed legislation that would allow papers to become 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organizations. This would give them a competitive advantage against other sources of advertising, and, in effect, be a subsidy. In exchange, newspapers could no longer endorse candidates on the editorial page or through their news coverage.