The French regional newspapers have lost 1000 jobs in one year. Their circulation keeps going down by an average of 2% a Year and advertising keeps sliding down at about 7 or 8% these last two years.
The shrinking of the French press is not unique in the world. In the US, American regional dailies suffer badly and there is no end to it.
What are the reasons? Are there any remedies?
The main cause for this downfall is the fact that people under 40 don't buy papers anymore. Their parents made a great use of the local press because of all kinds of information they provided on their day to day life. Now, you can get these tips on many free websites that inform you on movies schedules, restaurants, sporting events, public transports and just everything.
30 years ago, the strike of the local daily could paralyze the life of a big city. To day, it is hardly noticed.
What are the solutions? There are two ways to make for this crisis that seems to last for ever.
First, the regional press must increase and improve its digital offer. They must set up a paying wall with very low rates as a start and a generous offer of news and videos. Never forget that the competition is tough and you have to outsmart the people that crowd the Internet field.
Then, newspapers have to think hard about their periodicity. Is it really necessary to publish every day? The print industry can survive for a long time but 7 newspapers a week is no more an obligation.
It means that the staff will have to be drastically reduced and reorganized. Less printers, more technicians experts in the mechanism of Internet and still many journalists with a different working schedule.
A hard challenge for the press establishment.