La Presse one step closer to non-profit structure

The French-language news outlet first announced its plan to adopt a not-for-profit structure in May.

The Quebec government fast-tracked a bill allowing La Presse to adopt a not-for-profit structure, according to an announcement made Thursday by government house leader Jean-Marc Fournier.

The news came the day after reports surfaced that the Montreal-based French-language digital news outlet may have been restricted from acquiring charity status after one member of the national assembly refused to support the legislation, which required unanimous consent.

La Presse  first announced its plan to become a registered not-for-profit in May of this year, eleven months after ceasing operations of its print publication and shifting exclusively to digital in June 2017.

Not-for-profit status will open up the outlet to private donations and government support, providing an alternative source of revenue that could help keep the 134-year-old institution afloat in what has proven to be an international climate of journalistic insecurity and rampant declines in advertising revenue.

Last month, La Presse announced its plans to sever its connection to the Desmarais family, which has owned the publication for more than 50 years.

The past year has been a difficult one for the Canadian newspaper industry.

After striking a deal to trade 37 community newspapers and four free newspapers in November 2017 (the majority of which were based in Ontario), Postmedia Network and Torstar Corp. together closed all but five: Exeter Times-Advocate and Exeter Weekender, Niagara Falls Review, Peterborough Examiner, St. Catharines Standard and the Welland Tribune.

Separate closures included The Montreal Free Press in February 2017 and the Guelph Mercury, which shuttered its doors in 2016 after 163 years in print.

 La Presse president Pierre-Elliott Levasseur is yet to make a statement.