Croissant crumbs will have to fall on tablet screens and day-old broadsheets at zinc counters throughout France tomorrow, if plans for a national "day without newspapers" are carried out.
The Federation of Workers in the Book, Paper and Communication Industries (Filipac CGT) has called for a halt in the publication of France’s national, regional and local dailies on July 5, 2012, to protest against lay-offs that have been rocking the news sector in France, as in the rest of the world.
In a statement, the organization asserted that social rupture and the dismantling of titles was under way. It demanded a moratorium on all redundancies, and for the government to intervene, according to Le Monde.
The statement also presented a “non-exhaustive” list of lay-offs that have been carried out or envisaged “by the management of the daily press,” including 670 at Hersant’s titles, 116 at the Ebra group and 1,000 at distribution company Presstalis, as well as the removal of positions at prominent dailies such as Le Figaro and Les Echos.
The failure of the merger between regional news group Hersant and Belgium's Rossel, announced last week- for which the two media companies blame Filipac CGT, according to Le Monde- helped to bring the challenges inherent in restructuring an industry in crisis to light.
The President of the Union of the Regional Daily Press (SPQR) has said that some titles were overstaffed, and that if excessive expenditures were weighing down budgets, then laying people off was fair game. “Of course, the press is not a product like any other, but we are mortal just like the others,” he explained to AFP.
Meanwhile, the Union of the National Daily Press (SPQN) has condemned the strike, calling it yet another example of “hostage-taking” (this is not the first time a strike has withheld newspapers from French kiosks). “Instead of defending employment, these uses of force destabilize it,” the SPQN stated.
Digital transformation is at the root of the matter, according to AFP, with the circulation of the regional daily press having sunk between 2 and 2.5 percent per year, and print advertising revenue having collapsed, since 2009. Sales of national newspapers in kiosks also dropped by 25 percent between 2008 and 2011, and look like they will see an equivalent plunge over the next four years.
Amid this destruction, France's digital centimes are not adding up to print euros: despite 16 million unique visitors and 600 million page views, digital revenue does not even add up to 10 percent of ad sales, reported Le Monde.
Even if it is a day without newspapers, tomorrow is unlikely to be a day without news; daily national business newspaper Les Echos said today that its Thursday, July 5 edition will be available on its website in PDF format.
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