Friday, February 5, 2016

News on Internet Is there a limit?

News on internet work. More and more people in the US and in Europe are willing to go digital. Even more stunning, more and more people are willing to pay a subscription. After all, the New York Times has one million digital subscribers.
And yet, the future of digital news is not fully safe. There are still many uncertainties as two recent events prove it.

First Politico. This website devoted to US politics is a tremendous success. Starting ten years ago, it employs 300 people and breaks even thanks to its very expansive newsletters. However Politico seems to bee in trouble. Its best journalists have left, last week following a conflict with their owner, Washington media group Allbriton. It seems that there was a deep desagreement on the development of the group. The owner has pushed for the creation of Politico Europe which started in Brussels one year ago. The staff wanted to launch new sites in all the main american cities. Finally, the owner has won and we'll see if his strategy proves right.

Same uncertainties with the Guardian. Its digital audience of 50 million UV's is remarkable. It has set up branches in the US and in Australia and has become a world reference for news, even winning a Pulitzer prize for its NSA disclosures.

And yet the Guardian announced drastic measures to reduce losses that amount to 70 million euros per year and would make the group bankrupt in 5 years. The fact is that contrary to the NYT or the Washington Post, the Guardian has always refused to set a paywall. Its website is free and advertising is not enough to make for the costs of an ambitious website and a falling print edition. It is obvious that the management faces a quandary and will have to build up a new strategy.

Still the NY Times is not out the woods. It finds it more and more difficult to increas its huge population of subscribers while costs keep rising with a newsroom of 1200 journalists.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Media 2016, new trends, new organizations

One can be sure of one thing: in 2016, there will be new upheavals in the media. In France, several groups are bound to move. Regional newspapers are in trouble and sales and mergers are likely. The departure of Michel Lucas, the aging chairman of Credit Mutuel means that Ebra, the chain of eastern regional dailies that belongs to the bank, could be put on sale, as it is obvious that the bankers from Strasbourg have not been able to make it a profitable business and a dynamic digital operator.

The same for group Sud Ouest. Its family owners are willing to let it go but the price offers are deceptively low.
Another process for Nice Matin. For the moment the daily belongs to its employees but it is running short on cash. Mr Estrosi the president of the Southern region is trying to find a new investor who could also be a political ally.

Another challenge for the 3 national newspapers, le Monde, le Figaro and les Echos. They must keep moving towards a global digital project. For the moment, the most successful is les Echos. Le Monde and le Figaro must be more assertive on a rigorous paywall and an attractive digital subscription offer. Still, it is obvious that France is lacking a major opearator in digital news and the Americans such as Vox, Buzzfeed, Politico Europe, keep coming. The only French success story is Mediapart but it must grow over its 110000 subscribers to survive in a very competitive world where Facebook and Google are more and more powerful.

Good luck for 2016.