Thursday, September 26, 2013

Digital and print. The breakthrough

One media- Audipresse has just published its audience results for 2012-13. The figures are impressive. More and more people read on both print and web.  33% of the readers use smartphones and tablets against 24% one year ago but 52% of the audience uses both print and web. It is common knowledge in most developed countries that the more people use digital supports, the more they use print too. Look at

The two strongest media are a free sheet 20 Minutes and a national daily, le Monde. 20 Minutes has a national monthly audience of 13 millions, le Monde, of 12 millions. They both register a digital audince close to 5 millions.

All the other figures show that the audience of both dailies and magazines keeps even as compared to previous years, thanks mainly to the growth of the use of smartphones and tablets. However, the economy  of this new situation is not fixed yet. Advertising is moving at a great speed from print to Web and to mobile. Paywalls work fairly well for national dailies with a rich content but are much less succesful for regional newspapers and magazines. The big question is : who is going to pay for what?

Thursday, September 19, 2013

newspapers on sale

The buying of the Washington Post by Jeff Bezos is just one stage of the lenghty process of property transfers of newspapers and magazines in most Western countries.

In the US, the Tribune company is trying to get rid at a bargain price of its former flagship newspapers such as the Los Angeles Times and the Chicago Tribune and the New York Times has just sold the Boston Globe with a heavy loss. The Gray Lady itself could one day be on the market in spite of the denials of the Schultzberger family. Remember what the Graham said two years ago?

In the UK there is no guarantee that the Murdoch family will keep for ever the Times and the Sun. Their ambitions are obviously turned towards movies and television, so much more profitable.

In France it is the same pattern. Neither Hersant, nor Tapie are to keep for ever their ailing dialies, Nice Matin and la Provence. Sud Ouest will sooner or later be transfered to some regional investor willing to trade losse for image. It seems obvious too that the Flemish group Roularta is losing patience with its French investments, Express, Etudiant, Point de Vue. After tough social plans, they could be put on the market. Same story with Amaury familyIt is of two minds about a partial or a total sale of a fairly prosperous group that suffers from its press branch, Equipe and Parisien.

What seems to happen is that a great part of the press goes to businessmen, tycoons looking for a good image but not relly interested by the job. The tragedy of the press is that it does not produce adventurers any more. They are all trying their luck in the digital world.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Bezos speaks on the Washington Post

In the september 3 issue of the Washington Post, Jeff Bezos speaks for the first time about his vision of the Washington Post he is going to visit to morrow. Needless to say, the man is cautious. He admits he is not an expert of the press and has no magic bullet to cure instantly the ailing newspaper.

Still, some of his comments exhibit a lot of common sense. He stresses that the Post cannot go down the drain indefinitely. A business must, at some point thrive and grow unless it becomes irrelevant. However the digital competition for print newspapers is punishing and the paywall is fragile. As he says, when the Post publishes in print version the result of a lengthy and costly investigation, it is immediately summed up and dispatched on many free websites. For the internaut, there is no reason to buy the daily if he gets for free the main elements of the topic. And yet, one has to find funds to finance the work of the journalists. In other words, digital subscription is not the global remedy, it is part of an elusive solution.

Bezos does not explain how this dilemma can be solved and I am not sure there is an obvious solution. It is likely he is going to try and the man is patient but what will happen in five years?