The sad story of Newsweek which sold two millions copies ten years ago and is now slowly dying as an electronic publication with very few readers gives a lot of food for thought.
It is a tough lesson for the French newsmagazines which are too many and now fighting to survive. L'Express has tried a new formula which is a failure and is losing circulation and advertising. Its owner, Belgian group Roularta considers it more and more as a black sheep it could do without.
Things don't look better for its main competitor, le Point. Its management prepares the buying off of a part of the staff. Nobody knows if Pinault its owner and an half retired aging businessman will keep it. However, candidates for an acquisition are scarce.
The two other leftleaning newsmagazines don't fare any better. Marianne is in a desperate situation. Few people would bet on its survival. Nouvel Observateur is in better shape. Still, it is losing money and its powerful chairman and owner, Claude Perdriel is 86.
For many years the newsmagazines prospered in France thanks to the lack of dynamism of the dailies which were both too expensive and too cut off from their readership. Now a lot of things have changed. Le Figaro and le Monde have developped attractive new sections and dynamic websites. They certainly are also in trouble but they begin to cash on a growing population of web subscribers.
For the News, the competition with Internet is not so easy. If they enlarge their websites with daily news, they compete with the many information sites while their teams are used to a weekly production. They canibalize their paper delivery with a very limited economic downfall. It was the end of Newsweek, it is a big challenge for der Spiegel, the biggest German Newsmagazine which was so powerful, not so long ago.
One can be sure that in five years, France will have, like Germany to day, only two newsmagazines and their life won't be easy.