No doubt, 2011 will be an eventful year for the media and specially the print industry. Lets try to review a list of cases and suggest some ideas for the coming months.
Presstalis The outlook is dark for the main French delivery system of magazines and national dailies. The union is still fighting a rearguard battle on the closing down of the Paris delivery center that loses 24 million euros a year. Still a solution won't be easy to get at. It seems more and more obvious that the press delivery could easily work without Presstalis, one of the last remnants of the postwar organization of the press. With the development of sales on Internet, the distribution of any kind of product is much more easier and cheaper and regional newspapers are eager to take in charge the national dailies, provided the present regulations are cancelled. Yet, the government is afraid of any social upheaval as presidential elections are getting closer (May 2012 is just around the corner). So, there will be more strikes and a lot of money thrown away before Presstalis gets a new megal statute and is reduced to its final role, i e the delivery of magazines at a competitive cost.
I Pad and others. Some papers have mentionned I Pad and the various tablets as a "new eldorado for the press". Is it really true? It seems at least to be an over statement. Its a fact that reading a piece of news with photos on the I Pad is a pleasant experience. However very few people are willing to pay for something else than a highly specialised publication. Information websites face a quandary: either try to collect a wide audience attracting some advertising but not enough to pay for the newsroom or ask for a paid subscription with too small a number of customers. In the US, private fundations are starting to finance in depth reporting but you don't see the same opportunities in Europe.
In 2011, Murdoch and the New York Times will try to push for an extension of paid services. We'll see how many readers will subscribe to a NYT digital delivery. Will it make for the loss of advertising? One must admit that there is no clear-cut solution and, definitely, no eldorado.
Libération; The daily is fighting for its survival. It managed to collect 12 million euros from its shareholders at the end of 2010. Now, it has to find a new boss. Laurent Joffrin, the charismatic publisher, will very likely move to the Nouvel Observateur, to replace Denis Olivennes who left for Lagardère group. No doubt the owners of Libération have a lot to worry in 2011.
Le Monde. BNP, the three new owners face a tough challenge this coming year. They must stop the loss of circulation and advertising receipts and reorganize drastically the printing process and the delivery system. This means it will not be easy to break even and new investments up to 50 million euros will be necessary to finance the buying out of printers and journalists. Moreover, the company needs to be staffed with new executives competent and trusted by the shareholders. Still there is reason for hope. Le Monde is a good label, well known abroad and its website is very successful. The future could be a fairly expansive
print daily connected to a very active website that would be partially free. But le Monde badly needs a bit of strategic thinking which is presently lacking.