Friday, June 24, 2011

Le Monde and the future of newspapers

Beeing the adviser of the societe des redacteurs du Monde, the organization of the famous newspaper's journalists, I attended yesterday their annual meeting. The climate was not good. 35 journalists are leaving after the takeover by the new owners. Only seven have been replaced as of yesterday. The figures of avertising and circulation are going South. The printers union or, rather the two printers unions are on strike, once or twice a week, to prevent a necessary reduction of the plethoric staff of the presses. Nobody knows for sure what the three shareholders, Bergé, Niel and Pigasse (BNP) intend to do in the long term.

So the journalists were down and pessimistic and yet, I think they were wrong. If one thinks that the content is more important than any kind of support or delivery system, then Le Monde is far ahead in the competition. When a big event occurs readers rush to the newspaper or its website. When you look at its Internet audience, you realize that it is the major news provider in the French speaking community. It seems obvious that money can be done out of it. If the printing question is solved, if advertising works better, if Internet and the print merge harmoniously, Le Monde would face a bright future. Of course, it will be a very different newspaper but it will live. It was the message I tried to convey to my friends. I hope they listened.