Monday, May 21, 2012

Do you know the Atavist?

The New York Times devotes a long survey to a very interesting start up called the Atavist. The 3 young men who started it and got the support of luminaries such as Eric Scmidt from Google intend to promote a special brand of journalism. They work on long pieces of reporting shorter than books but much longer that the average found in newspapers or magazines. These papers are sold on their site and include multimedia elements, sound and video. They also offer support for people who intend to publish on the Web. As the NYT suggests, it is a comforting experience to see young people still interested by journalism and willing to use the Web potential to promote a sophisticated form of news reporting. So have a look at www.the

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The first challenge of president Hollande

As I have been warning long in advance the staff of François Hollande, the crisis of Presstalis is blowing up with a financial investment to save the company that grows every month. On January  150 millions euros were needed. I discovered last week it had jumped to 200 millions. Read a good story on Presstalis on the website of Electronlibre.

I remember very well that we had heated debates on this matter at the strategic committee of Etats Généraux de la Presse, 4 years ago. Several of us, including myself were in favour of a drastic solution : the merger of Presstalis with a huge logistics company that could cope with the declining figures of press activities. Otherwise, how could you make profitable a company that sees its sales declining by 10% a year.
Sarkozy refused to move in that direction so the Etats Généraux were cosmetic about the looming disaster of press delivery. Now it is late and maybe too late to reach a consensus. The new government will face a tough negociation with the CGT. Good luck Mr Ayrault.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The model of the New York Times

The New York Times seems to win the challenge of developing its paywall. It has 450000 paying subscribers that add up to the print subscribers who have opted for the digital service. The global figure is 800000  digital subscribers. If you consider that the average subscription fee is 120 dollars a year, it means that the paywall amounts to about 60 million dollars a year, a fairly significant figure.

Still other newspapers executives should not jump too quickly to an early conclusion. The NYT is a very special daily doted with a strong label, an exceptionnal team of 1000 journalists. Its digital policy has been pursued for 15 years with many significant failures. Also, the print edition that carries 90% of the income is in trouble. Since the beginning of 2012, the sales have gone down by 4.5%.

The lesson for French newspapers is that a proper digital policy is a long term effort that will pay off in 5 or maybe 10 years, when the print will be close to collapse. It means too that the quality of information must be coupled with a very cautious subscription policy People are definitely more ready to pay now than 5 years ago but they will only agree with very moderate rates. It is obvious, for instance,that the subscription rate of le Monde is much too high which is a pity if you consider the huge potential of this prestigious daily. What national and regional dailies must do is build up a long term strategy to improve the content of the website and get people used to pay for what they need. The rendez vous is 2022.