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An IRS break for news nonprofits

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Justin Ellis at the Nieman Journalism Lab reports on a change in the tax-exemption process that should make it easier for nonprofit news sites to pass muster with the Internal Revenue Service: "This month, the IRS introduced a new application that makes getting tax-exempt status not much more complicated than ordering a pizza online. What was once a 26-page form has been cut down to three, and groups will now only have to pay a $400 fee rather than $850 to apply."

How the feds are obstructing journalism

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The Obama administration claims to be the most transparent ever, but that's news to journalists who "complain that they've been stonewalled, barred from talking to health agency staffers and experts, or required to submit questions in writing, only to get 'talking point' responses," Jenni Bergal writes in Nieman Reports. Also, the Society of Environmental Journalists complains about press restrictions at the Environmental Protection Agency.

Bias in the press credential process?

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A new Harvard study says one in five journalists reports having been denied a press pass, and freelancers were among the primary victims. Jonathan Peters writes about what it means: "When a credential that should be granted is denied, the public’s access to information may be harmed. A journalist is unable to ask a key question at a news conference … and our understanding of the world around us, and the role we can play in it, may suffer."

The true price of checkbook journalism

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A Toronto newspaper pays $10,000 for photos of the city's mayor holding a crack pipe. A popular web site pays for a tape of an NBA team owner's racist rant. Poynter's Al Tompkins worries that those purchases could reflect "the cost of the steady, slow decline of journalism credibility. Audiences say they believe less of what journalists report. So to get the public to believe us, must we amp up the evidence, even if it means paying a drug dealer for a set up photo?"

Why the Pulitzers punted on features

A screening jury nominated three candidates for the Pulitzer Prize in Feature Writing, but they all were passed over. Poynter's Roy Peter Clark offers some ideas about the reasons for the snub: "Something unfortunate and unintended happens any time the Pulitzer Board decides not to give a prize in a particular category … The lack of a winner in a category casts a pall on all the finalists, calling attention to their imagined deficiencies rather than their capacities."

A hacking law that threatens journalists

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Could you go to jail for publishing information that you find online? Panelists at a recent data journalism conference said that's exactly what could happen under some interpretations of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, Caroline O'Donovan writes: "Ultimately, the conventional wisdom seems to be that reporters hoping to stay out of court should be very upfront about their intentions, conservative in their judgments, and confident in the value of what they're doing."

The year in embarrassing corrections

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Poynter's Craig Silverman marks the end of the year with his annual roundup of goofs. He awards "Error of the Year" to "60 Minutes" for its Benghazi report. And then there's this: "A Bloody Mary recipe, which accompanied an Off Duty article in some editions on June 8 about the herb lovage, called for 12 ounces of vodka and 36 ounces of tomato juice. The recipe as printed incorrectly reversed the amounts, calling for 36 ounces of vodka and 12 ounces of tomato juice."

A major victory for Google Books

There's a big turnaround in the Authors Guild's long-running fight against Google's plan to scan all the world's books and offer excerpts online. A federal appeals judge dismissed the Guild's lawsuit Thursday, having previously rejected a settlement. Analysis from the New York Times, Technology Review, Gigaon, Inside Higher Ed, and the Guild.

An editor in defense of internships

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Some people have declared the end of interns, but former Washingtonian editor Jack Limpert begs to differ. Limpert writes that former interns comprised a third to a half of his magazine's staff: "When you’re looking for good people, it’s one thing to look at resumes and clips and interview someone for an hour; having that someone in the office for three or four months tells you a lot more about what kind of journalist he or she might be."

Deciding who qualifies as a journalist

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Josh Stearns of Free Press asks "who's a journalist?" in a paper on the non-profit group's site: "When our founders drafted the Bill of Rights, the U.S. did not have a professional press. The publishers it did have — mostly pamphleteers — had more in common with today’s bloggers than with journalists at the New York Times," he writes. "Today’s pamphleteers use iPhones and blogs instead of carbon paper, but their acts of journalism still deserve protection."