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Montreal/Ottawa, May 12 (Canadian-Media): La Presse’s announced this week its plan of adopting a not-for-profit structure, to enable utilization of operational profits, any government assistance and donor funds to produce high-quality reporting, media reports said.
This factor would reportedly result in La Presse’s -- one of the largest and most prestigious newsrooms in Canada – in cutting ties with its longtime owner, the Desmarais family.
The Desmarais family added they would be donating $50 million to the not-for-profit.
La Presse had stopped printing paper copies in December 2017 and went exclusively digital, featuring a website, mobile app and a daily tablet edition called La Presse+.
Edward Greenspon, former editor-in-chief of the Globe and Mail and author of a federal government-commissioned study earlier this year said it marked a.historic day in the evolution of Canadian newspapers.
Greenspon, in his report “The Shattered Mirror” published in January 2017, recommended the federal government to support the non-profit media organizations to qualify as recipients for from philanthropic foundations.
La Presse president Pierre-Elliott Levasseur had also urged the federal government to make suitable donations.
Canada lacks enough philanthropic money, said Greenspon, to support journalism on its own and is reportedly far behind the United States, Germany and other countries when it comes to such innovative setups.
The U.S. is home to dozens of not-for-profit news outlets such as ProPublica and the Marshall Project, which have secured backing from charitable foundations and philanthropists.
The government had allocated, in its budget earlier this year $50 million over five years to support independent, non-governmental organizations to promote local journalism in underserved communities.
Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly didn't go into specifics when asked this week about how the government would support La Presse or whether she expects other legacy print media to follow its lead.
"This is a question you need to ask to the media groups themselves because obviously they will take these decisions," she said in the House of Commons during question period.
"Meanwhile, as a government, I've said it many times, our position is that we want to support the media sector, but at the same time, we want to respect the independence of journalism."
It was suggested that Ottawa could make legislative changes that would ensure money being made by internet giants "is funnelled back to content providers like news media and cultural industries in Canada."
(Reporting by Asha Bajaj)