Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The death of Hersant group

20 years ago, groupe Hersant kept a domineering position in the French media world although it had already pulled out of radio broadcasting and television. These days, Philippe Hersant is putting the final hand to the sale of his French newspapers, under the combined pressure of his 17 bankers and Siri, the government agency in charge of failing companies.

The buyer is Rossel, the Belgian press groupe, owner of Le Soir of Brussels and Voix du Nord. The highly professionnal Rossel team is fully aware of the pitfalls that threaten the dailies on sale. Union of Reims is losing a lot of money thanks to a bloated printing unit that used to print millions of Comareg free sheets. Nice Matin and Provence must reduce their staff and keep a good relationship with the local government that provides them with a great part of their advertising. The new management will have to cut about 500 jobs. It will also consider the only newspaper remaining in Hersant group, Paris Normandie. The publication is close to bankrupcy. Sooner or later Rossel is bound to take it under its own conditions and try to save the dying newspaper.

Still, the outcome doesn't look so bad. With a proper management, the new group should be profitable and follow the rules that make Voix du Nord a dynamic corporation, very active in Internet, radio and local television.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Is the French Huffington Post necessary?

Monday 23 was a big media event: the launching of the French version of the Huffington post. The editor is none other than Anne Sinclair who is both an ex TV anchor woman and the patient wife of Dominique Strauss Kahn. 250 journalists and TV channels from all over the world showed up, mostly attracted, it seems by the marital statute of Ms Sinclair.

Still, skeptics wonder what could be the future of this new pure player. True it is linked to le Monde but the staff of the very serious newspaper are less than enthusiastic about a publication that could easily drift towards people chronicles and saucy gossips like its American big brother. Many important people are willing to contribute with bologs but they could get tired very quickly as they are not expected to be paid.

For the moment, advertisers seem interested but they will look carefully at the audience and there are many, too many? pure players in France, such as Rue 89, Mediapart, Slate, Atlantico.

We shal have another look in one month to assess the health of the new baby of Ariadna and Ann.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Too many blogs for the Washingon Post

Last Sunday, the ombusman of the Washington Post complained about the numerous blogs and web services that have grown at a frightening speed around the website of the Washington Post. I quite agree. One of the big challenges of 2012 and the following years is the managements of newspapers press rooms. It is obvious that print and web journalists cannot be everywhere and work 24hrs a day. It is also a fact that the population of Internauts has increased enormously and finds it very easy to send messages and blogs to the social networks. How can we use intelligently this flow of news, some of them very valuable, most of them useless or redondant.

I believe that part of the solution is the building up of communities made of reliable followers, who are willing to contribute, provide their opinions and answer questions from the newsroom. The French regional newspapers have created, many years ago that kind of community for their print editions. These people are called "press correspondants" and deliver pieces of news about their own environment without beeing considered as journalists. This good system should be adapted to the rythm and technics of Internet.

Still,most of the news are delivered by print editions. Which means that the crisis of Presstalis, is a dramatic threat for national dailies who rely on this clumsy organization to reach their readers. Presstalis is deeply in the red and several publications are fleeing to its main competitor MLP. It has been obvious for many years that the French delivery system is obsolete and has to be replaced by efficient and cheaper specialists of logistics including the networks of the regional newspapers. How long shall we have to wait for a very necessary reform?