Friday, January 28, 2011

the media mercato

The brownian movement of the media executives that has occured during the last two months, is very worrying, according to one of my friend journalists who has been following the scene for many years.
Why that worry? According to him, it shows the deep crisis of the traditional media who try desperately to find new men or women to solve problems which are due to structural change. It also increases the gap between the low income of the young journalists and the extravagant salaries of the top executives. A graduate of a school of journalism will be happy to start with 2000 euros a month. His boss will make 30 000.
And yet, who can expect that Nicolas Demorand will improve the financial situation of Libération or the new chairman of le Figaro will increase the lagging circulation of the daily. Will Denis Olivennes create a miracle at Europe 1 after several years of stand by at le Nouvel Observateur? Nobody can believe that.
The fact is that there is a crisis of the media and not a crisis of information. People are more and more eager to have access to the news and even willing to pay if the information is really useful to them. But, they are not carried away any more by the average media while Internet and applications offer so many intriguing possibilities. It will take years to adjust to this new scenery. For that purpose, the expensive media mercato of to day is useless. It is even counterproductive.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Le Monde and co

The selection committee chaired by Pierre Bergé has delivered his decision yesterday. Erik Izralewicz is picked up to be the next publisher of le Monde if he gets a 60% approval from the journalists.
This choice is very fortunate. E I is a talented journalist with a wide experience earned at le Monde but also as editor in chief of les Echos and la Tribune. The other 12 candidates were obviously not up to the job and nobody can doubt his capacity to keep an independant stance in front of the three owners. Moreover, he issued a remarkable statement to the committee, explaining very clearly how he intended to work with the newsroom and the digital branch of the newspaper. One can be sure that he will start long expected reforms that will allow the daily to be more active, more exciting and using more the content of its very successful website
If the newspapers have a future, it is thanks to a combination of massive savings on printing and delivery and a sharing of news between the web and the print, the web beeing used for a permanent flux of news, the print for analysis and comment. it means a big effort for the newsroom which has to be convinces that its survival is at stake.

Monday, January 17, 2011


To day's New York Times website explains why the magazines applications on the I-Pad don't work. The main reason is that Apple doesn't allow magazines to offer yearly subscriptions on the tablet. If you want to read the New Yorker, you must buy each issue at a price hardly lower than the paper copy. Moreover, Apple refuses to give informations on the buyers.
This schedule is most unusual for magazines which are used to offer long term subscriptions to their print editions and work very hard on their thousands of subscribers. For the average customer, the Apple offer is not attractive at all. Why should they bother to buy an electronic version of their favorite magazine when they can get it every week or month at a much lower price in a good print version?
In fact, it seems that Apple is fighting a rearguard battle. New tablets are appearing on the market that will offer much better conditions to the publications and subscribers. Apple will have to follow its competitors after having lost the opportunity to dominate the market.
One thing remains to be seen: are tablets the magic solution for the press woes?

Le Monde again

The long painful process of choosing a new publisher for le Monde is on its way. 12 candidates have showed up. Only 3 or 4 can be considered as serious. The owners have made it clear that they want to put in charge somebody who is young, around 40 and dynamic. However, they have to find an agreement with the association of journalists (SRM). And, I may add that there are not so many people in Paris who are able to manage a famous daily which has to face major reforms and notably to define a long term strategy for Its Website.

Two months after the change of ownership, it appears that groupe le Monde is a multiheaded monster with many people eager to make decisions without consulting each other. The 3 owners, the new CEO, the SRM and also outside partners such as Publicis and Lagardère, all compete to define a policy. The future publisher will be another actor on a very crowded stage.
The end result could be a takeover from Xavier Niel, the only man who owns most of the money. The big question is: what does he want to do?

Monday, January 10, 2011

the multiple challenges of le Monde

According to various informations, the lengthy and painful process of nomination of a publisher for le Monde, starts this week. The number of inside and outside candidates is close to ten. And yet, nobody can tell whether this nomination will put an end to the troubles of the famous newspaper.
In fact, the new publisher will have to face a permanent conflict which could turn into a war of attrition between the owners and the top editorial staff. As no global strategy has been devised by the shareholders, the publisher will be at a loss to fix his role. He will also have to cope with the challenge of finding a solution for the digital branch of the group.
It seems that the owners want to rush to a global system that would solve in a few months all the problems that have been pending for 10 years. I don't think that it is a wise way working. For le Monde, there are priorities: the printing and the digital and 2011 will hardly be long enough to follow succesfully this process.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The failed eldorado of I-Pad

Last week, I wrote in this chronicle that the I-Pad was not the eldorado expected by the print industry. I did not expect to get a confirmation so quickly. Yesterday, two articles publishedbyhttp://www.numerama;com/magazines and that both gave the figures of subscriptions of US magazines on I-Pad, showed that these subscriptions were a failure.
Take for instance Wired, the famous magazine devoted to Internet. 100000 people subscribed on June 23000 remained on November. Vanity Fait went down from 10 to 8000. Glamour, from 4300 to 2800.
Other worrying news came from the French operator Orange. Its sales of I-Pad went bust. Only 30 000 were delivered before Christmas. A bad figure for a product that was supposed to be on the top of the list of New year gifts.
Two conclusions can be drawn from these figures. First, the magazines don't work in the same way as daily newspapers. The screen, cannot easily compete with glossy paper magazines. Newspapers provide a flux of news that is easy to manage on Internet. Hence, the success of dailies seems more obvious on tablets than Vanity Fair.
The second conclusion is that nobody knows yet how news can best be delivered on various supports, computers, I-phone, I-pad. What do people want? Are they ready to follow the process of a print daily, moving from page 1 to page 40, or, which is more likely, do they want to pick pieces of news, according to their main interests? In that case, what are they willing to pay? Certainly not 1,50 euros, which is the cost of le Monde or le Figaro. They also begin to consider that the providers such as Orange get too greedy which could explain the deceptive sales figures of I-Pad.
A lot of food for thought for the year 2011.