I am just back from a few days in France, where the crisis has hit the print media pretty hard. President Nicolas Sarkozy has proposed a bailout, including a free copy for 18 year olds. In return he wants the sector to sort out its problems, which are many. “The crisis-hit French press is among the least profitable in Europe, stifled by rigid communist print unions, a lack of kiosks selling papers and a declining readership far below that of the UK or Germany,” says the Guardian.
The French media is already state-subsidised and the press has historically had a very different structure, business model and appearance to les anglo saxons.
It may be converging now that things are getting worse on both sides of the Channel. Le Monde has a mini-relaunch on Monday Jan 26th, with more to come. This seemed to involve more pictures and less text, making it look more like a British paper. “The paper is also now catering more towards the needs of its readers, who it believes are increasingly busy during the week and dedicate more of their time at the weekend to leisurely browsing of the daily newspaper,” says editorsweblog, published by the World Association of Newspapers. (This, by the way, is a good place to look for news about the sector )
If you are interested in French online news sites, try rue89.com, started by four ex-Liberation guys (including Pierre Haski); or mediapart.com, run by Edwy Plenel, former ed of Le Monde. Plenel left the paper after its last spot of bother.
BTW: on the WAN website: “The World Association of Newspapers has decided to postpone its World Newspaper Congress, World Editors Forum and Info Services Expo, scheduled to be held in Hyderabad, India from 22 to 25 March, until December, due to the impact of the global financial downturn on newspaper companies.”