On Monday, July 25, teams from the Herald and South Side Weekly gathered to take a photograph commemorating the merger. Photo by Marc C. Monaghan
Photo by Marc C. Monaghan

The IRS has issued 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status to the nonprofit that publishes the South Side Weekly and Hyde Park Herald, ending a nearly ten-year-long journey to become a federally recognized nonprofit. The status takes effect retroactively, as of April 1, 2022, when the organization filed its application.

South Side Weekly NFP incorporated as an Illinois nonprofit in 2014 but had not received federal approval due to restrictions that, until recently, disqualified many print newspapers from becoming tax-exempt entities.

They join a growing cohort of newspapers in the Chicagoland area making the transition. Notably, the Chicago Reader completed their nonprofit transition last May. 

Jason Schumer, the organization’s managing director, thanked the Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights, which paired the nonprofit to law firm Mayer Brown for pro-bono legal assistance for the merger and acquisition of tax-exempt status.

“It’s been a long time coming,” Schumer said. “It wouldn’t have been possible without their support.”

Longtime publisher Bruce Sagan transferred the Hyde Park Herald to South Side Weekly NFP, which publishes the Herald and Weekly as sister news organizations, on July 1, 2022.  

The organization is now classified as a public charity and has received nearly $200,000 in foundation support to grow their editorial coverage and build an investigations hub that will work across both papers to source stories from South Side communities. Support comes from Builder’s Initiative, Square One Foundation, Google News Initiative, and the Fund for Investigative Journalism. 

Jacqueline Serrato, the Weekly’s editor-in-chief, said, “Joining the growing non-profit journalism ecosystem was the logical next step for the South Side Weekly in its path to becoming a more sustainable, independent and equitable publication.”

Together the Herald and the Weekly reach tens of thousands monthly on the South Side through online and print publishing.

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An earlier version of this story was published by the Hyde Park Herald on February 15, 2023.

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