Sacramento Bee launching nonprofit model to fund special journalism projects

The Sacramento Bee is rolling out a new nonprofit model that will pay the salaries of at least three reporters whose beats will include developing special news projects for the newspaper.

The reporters will be assigned to the Tipping Point Lab, a new group within the Bee, where they will work alongside an editor to produce in-depth reporting for the newspaper.

The Bee worked with the Sacramento Region Community Foundation to launch a new nonprofit called the Impact Media Fund that will solicit tax-deductible contributions from the public to fund the  Tipping Point Lab, according to the Sacramento Business Journal who first reported on the project Thursday morning.

The salaries of the four journalists will be paid through donations raised by the fund, the Business Journal said. Donors will not have editorial control over the work of the reporters, an official with the Sacramento Bee’s parent company McClatchy affirmed.

News of the move comes less than one day after a report from the Poynter Institute said McClatchy was exploring a possible sale of the company after revenue projects showed it would likely not be able to pay down a $120 million pension funding debt that is due next year.

Poynter said McClatchy had hired lawyers and financial advisors to explore various options for the company ahead of the bill’s due date.

“Typically that is a first step toward a company exploring the possibility of a sale,” Poynter’s Rick Edmonds reported, adding that a McClatchy official told reporters on a conference call the company was “early in these negotiations” and declined to comment further on its plans.