We have a major announcement! Limestone Post Magazine is now an official 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization!
The IRS sent us our letter of determination stating that Limestone Media Inc. is qualified to receive tax-deductible donations, which means our donors can deduct contributions they make to Limestone Post!
I want to thank you for supporting Limestone Post in any way you can (and to keep in mind all of the worthy local nonprofits this holiday season), but allow me to talk about the bigger picture. What does this mean for Limestone Post and our commitment to local journalism?
When I announced earlier this year that we were converting Limestone Post into a nonprofit, I mentioned how important it is for people to know what’s going on in their community. Without reliable local news sources, municipal government becomes more inefficient and costly, and citizen engagement declines. It isn’t that people stop caring; it’s that they’re not aware of what to care about.
Since we launched Limestone Post in 2015, we have focused on in-depth stories on topics ranging from the arts and environment to health and social-justice issues. Almost immediately after we launched, people were saying how much Bloomington needed a publication like ours. As one reader put it, “Limestone Post fills a gap in the local media landscape.”
As a for-profit magazine whose revenue came from selling advertising space on our site, we found much support from local businesses that wanted to share their messages with our readers as well as to contribute to a publication with high editorial standards. But the digital-advertising market is a tough one, especially when competing with the likes of Google and Facebook. Granted, I turned down tens of thousands of dollars from local companies that offered to buy advertising from us — if we did a story on them. But that is exactly one of the reasons readers told us why a publication like LP is needed — our editorial content was not influenced by advertising considerations. Instead, our contributors wrote long-form articles about the variety of interests and concerns that people have in a dynamic place like Bloomington. The separation of editorial and advertising (journalism’s version of “church and state”) was written into our mission statement.
Our mission hasn’t changed. In fact, the need for reliable and accessible local news continues to grow. Media consolidation, fake news, and waning editorial integrity make it more important than ever for people to have the information they need to make educated decisions about their community.
Because we focus on in-depth stories, and not just the headlines of the day, stories we published years ago are still being read by thousands of people, whether they’re about criminal justice, logging in our state forests, water quality, food insecurity, or any other topic critical to the well-being of our community.
Across the country, local publications ranging from NUVO, an alternative weekly in Indianapolis, to The Salt Lake Tribune, a legacy daily newspaper in Utah, have recently joined the nonprofit journalism movement. This effort is supported by nonprofits such as The American Journalism Project, which states, “We are mobilizing a movement to support the local press our democracy deserves.”
And, just as important, community journalism depends on local support. Tax-deductible donations from individuals, organizations, and businesses will allow us to cover stories that aren’t being covered elsewhere, as well as to publish more in-depth stories with our media partners. (We’ve been in talks with several local media groups about such partnerships.) Most of our content comes from local freelance writers, photographers, videographers, and illustrators, among others. They have done important work for Limestone Post and the community. Many are willing and able to continue working for us at much reduced rates because they believe in the stories they’re telling, whether in words or images. But they deserve more. We want to pay them what their work is worth. For that, we need your support.
We are looking not only for monetary donations but also help in other ways. As we grow as a nonprofit, we will be forming committees to address fundraising, editorial, administrative, and technical issues. If you’re interested in volunteering, please don’t hesitate to email us at [email protected] for more information.
If you have any story ideas you would like us to consider, please drop me a line. We won’t be able to pursue them all, but we will consider each one. Likewise, if you have a confidential tip on a newsworthy topic, you can email here or direct message one of our social accounts. We’ll keep your identity anonymous.
I have received invaluable help from many people and organizations during our nonprofit transition. We have so many great resources in Monroe County, but I’d like to highlight one group in particular.
Since March, the Indiana University Maurer School of Law’s Nonprofit Legal Clinic has guided us through the process of getting our nonprofit status. Not only did they help with Form 1023 — the dreaded IRS application for tax-exempt status — but the Clinic also worked with us on many other legal issues, such as drafting our Fundraising Policy, Bylaws, Sponsorship Agreements, and many other documents. I can’t thank them — or recommend them — enough.
Finally, to celebrate our new nonprofit status, we’d like to offer our donors a gift! If you donate $25 or more, we will send you a copy of our first print edition, A Sense of Place, an art magazine that commemorates the history of Bloomington and Monroe County (add one or more of the donate buttons to the cart, for a total of $25 or more, add “Sense of Place” to the cart, and use this coupon code: sense-of-place).
Thank you for all of the support in the past four years. Your continued support in the future will be vital to our success.
For more information on our progress, email me at [email protected] or click one of the links below: