Friday, November 22, 2013

the fatal decline of the newsmagazines

The loyal readers of my blog know it. I have warned a long time ago about the decline of the newsmagazines. When you consider that in the US, only one, the Time, managed to survive while this kind of publication doesn't exist in the UK and the German Der Spiegel is suffering badly, you realize that France cannot feed with advertising and sales four news. Things are going to change and very soon.

Yves de Chaisemartin, the courageous owner of Marianne agrees that it will be a uphill battle to save Marianne, the weakest of the gang of four. And a merger of le Point and l'Express is bound to happen sooner rather than later.

One can accuse the shrinking advertising market and the fact that there are less and less newspapers stands in the French big cities which means that the average customer is less tempted to buy press products whose offer is rarefied.

Still the main factor is very simple: newsmagazines are desperately old fashioned. They thrived in the 20th century, thanks to a massive urbanization  in Europe and the USA when print paper was the easiest access to in depth news. They collapse now in the new digital age when the public can get every kind of information through his computer or mobile devices. A week is too long a delay when important affairs pop up every day on the many screens that surround us. Websites, whether they are pure players or connected to a daily, are more efficient, more user friendly.

Moreover, daily newspapers are transforming themselves to keep their readership. They deliver hot news, daily news and more in depth reporting, using both the print and the Web. Their large newsrooms are more reactive and efficient than the smaller teams of the weeklies that are used to a more relaxed way of life.

Information is a lively process. New breeds replace existing products that have outlived their usefulness.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

New journalism attracts old journalists

The New York Times and the Guardian are prestigious titles whose websites are at the top of the list of world news services. And yet, they keep losing some of their best journalists who are attracted by new adventures on Internet that can also prove one day to be profitable.

Five years ago, Politico started with some of the best Washington correspondents from the Times and the Post. To day, Pierre Omidyar a very wealthy businessman is launching a new site devoted to in depth inquiries and he picked up Glenn Greenwald, the Guardian NSA scoop getter. Other sites like Buzzfeed and Yahoo keep hiring and often look for the best. In France, Mediapart could play the same role thanks to its growing audience.

In the November 18 issue of the Guardian Emily Bell observes that it could mean a sharp division between ailing popular and regional newspapers and a prosperous high level brand of journalism providing news to a world elite, ready to pay. Such is an unforeseen result of the Internet revolution.

Friday, November 15, 2013

The future of regional newspapers

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.