Canada newspaper La Presse to become a non-profit

May 8, 2018
La Presse is the first major newspaper in Canada to become a non-profit entity

The Montreal daily La Presse, after ending its 134 year-old print edition and going digital, said on Tuesday it will become a non-profit entity reliant on donations and government support.

In doing so, the country's leading French-language declared the for-profit business model in the sector a failure, after decades of plummeting subscriptions and advertising revenues.

The newspaper will also severe ties with the powerful Desmarais family, which has interests in oil company Total and buildings material maker LafargeHolcim.

The family will provide a parting donation of Can$50 million (US$42 million) to the newspaper to help it find its new footing.

To be viable, La Presse is also counting on a boost from government tax incentives on "philanthropic concepts, in addition to direct aid," the paper said.

Several US and European newspapers are set up as non-profits, with backing from wealthy foundations and donors bankrolling investigative and public interest journalism.

But in Canada, La Presse is the first major newspaper to adopt this template.

Canadian Heritage Minister Melanie Joly noted that the government earmarked Can$50 million in its last budget to support local journalism.

"We said in the 2018 budget that we are prepared to explore new models for media, including allowing philanthropic donations," she said.

"Canadians are accessing information through different means and that's creating a lot of pressure on our media sector. We know that also our media are innovating right now, so we want to continue our discussions (for) supporting local journalism."

La Presse launched a tablet edition in the spring of 2013, and on January 1 stopped publishing its print edition for the first time since 1884.

Initially the paper had hoped to offer the tablet edition for free and rely exclusively on online advertising revenues.

But publisher Guy Creview said on Tuesday that it continues to lose money, even though it has 260,000 subscribers.

"We do not intend to return to a paying model," La Presse president Pierre-Elliott Levasseur told a news conference.

Studies have shown, according to him, that at best 100,000 subscribers would be willing to pay Can$5 per month for a newspaper. "That would be devastating to our business," he said.

Levasseur noted that internet giants Facebook and Google have "siphoned 90 percent of advertising revenues in Canada."

Explore further: Montreal's La Presse pulls plug on daily print edition

Related Stories

Toronto Star to launch tablet edition next year

November 5, 2014

Canada's largest circulation newspaper, the Toronto Star, announced Wednesday plans for a tablet edition in the new year, following in the footsteps of another major local newspaper.

New York Times gains 139,000 subscribers in Q1

May 3, 2018

The New York Times—dismissed as a "failing" newspaper by US President Donald Trump—had a net gain of 139,000 online subscribers in the first three months of 2018, the daily said Thursday.

Montreal newspaper to go digital

March 12, 2011

A major French-language Canadian daily aims to shed its print edition over the coming years in favor of a digital newspaper for the iPad and other tablets, a report said Friday.

Recommended for you

Nanoscale Lamb wave-driven motors in nonliquid environments

March 19, 2019

Light driven movement is challenging in nonliquid environments as micro-sized objects can experience strong dry adhesion to contact surfaces and resist movement. In a recent study, Jinsheng Lu and co-workers at the College ...

OSIRIS-REx reveals asteroid Bennu has big surprises

March 19, 2019

A NASA spacecraft that will return a sample of a near-Earth asteroid named Bennu to Earth in 2023 made the first-ever close-up observations of particle plumes erupting from an asteroid's surface. Bennu also revealed itself ...

The powerful meteor that no one saw (except satellites)

March 19, 2019

At precisely 11:48 am on December 18, 2018, a large space rock heading straight for Earth at a speed of 19 miles per second exploded into a vast ball of fire as it entered the atmosphere, 15.9 miles above the Bering Sea.


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.