Tuesday, February 4, 2014

French press. Big subsidies and no result

Last week, the Nieman Lab showed how the newsonomics were changing for ever the American media landscape  (www.niemanlab.org). Every month new websites devoted to reporting and current news rise and hire top journalists. Wealthy investors such as Pierre Omydiar are willing to put tens of millions of dollars, hoping for long term results and success.

In France, the situation is far less promising. Pure players, apart from Mediapart are lagging behind. Newspapers try desperately to match their losses of circulation with a fairly modest increase of digital subscriptions: 40000 only for le Monde which is the best. 20000 for le Figaro.

What's happening? French press is the most subsidized in Europe. Dailies and magazines collect close to 1 billion euros of public money to make for losses due mainly to poor management and exorbitant demands from employees.

One question: what would happen if public subsidies were cut by half and limited to the ailing family of dailies and newsmagazines ? My guess is that France would have to follow the model of Germany or the UK. Their press gets much less aid, is better managed and does its best to overcome the digital challenge. The European media groups have successfully played the card of internet. In France, I bet that the media will be saved by complete outsiders, as always in the long history of the press.