Business Week reports on interesting developments in the newspaper business in France:
[…] To survive, old-line papers are scouting for deep pockets. Libération found its savior in Rothschild. The conservative Le Figaro, hurt by a 3% drop in sales, was acquired last summer by defense tycoon Serge Dassault for an estimated $1.6 billion. So far, no white knight has emerged to rescue Le Monde. The parent company of the influential daily posted an estimated net loss of $70 million on sales of less than $890 million last year. The paper recently replaced its editor and announced plans to lay off 90 of 740 employees. Lagardère, the conglomerate that owns 15% of Le Monde, says it is not interested in taking control. Le Monde managers hope to preserve their independence by finding several minority shareholders.
While Le Monde hasn’t found its white knight, they’ve been very busy in evolving into a mix of old/new media by introducing reader blogs last December.
Since Poynteronline reported the Le Monde blogs story in December, Libération has started blogs – by three of their journalists so far, rather than readers (and the blogs are hosted by TypePad). Le Figaro has yet to take steps into the blogosphere.
Does this spell the end for ‘dead trees’ publishing in France? Hardly. Business Week:
The question now is whether the new owners can ever make money. At Le Figaro, Dassault is plowing an undisclosed sum into a new printing plant in Southern France to reduce the cost of distributing Le Figaro in that region. A snazzy new look for the paper is in the works. To pump up circulation, Libé may cut its newsstand price to $1.30, from about $1.55. Hard-nosed capitalism, it seems, is the best hope to save France’s dailies.
It looks like the papers are intent on targeting traditional older readers. Yet surely the business plans must say ‘target younger readers’ – the broad group which has different ideas on how they want to receive and interact with news and information.
So I’d have said it’s more likely that hard-nosed capitalism combined with a strong evolutionary push into new media is the way forward.