Iniziano a chiudere le prime testate gratuite in giro per l'Europa. Ipotizzo che questo modello potrà resistere bene solo in Europa orientale dove il costo del lavoro giornalistico è estremamente più contenuto rispetto a quello dell'area occidentale. Nell'articolo del Financial Times che riprendo di seguito l'unico orizzonte possibile dell'informazione gratuita sembra internet. Non ne sono persuaso. Anche il cartaceo meramente informativo potrà avere uno spazio in futuro ma solo se coglierà questa crisi per cambiare i modelli organizzativi (azzerrare la redazione e far lavorare tutti i collaboratori da casa), i modelli di fruizione attraverso i siti web aggiornati costantemente e differenziando i momenti di uscita, le offerte pubblicitarie (la pubblicità a stampa è forse quella meno efficace come viene proposta oggi).
C'è molto da riflettere ma oggi sono pigro e mi fermo qua.
'Free newspapers are in the frontline trenches of this war'
By Ben Fenton, Chief Media Correspondent
Published: March 17 2009 02:00 | Last updated: March 17 2009 02:00
Not long ago, freesheets were seen as the nemesis of the paid-for newspaper. Now it seems at least as likely that the free newspaper model will be the first to fail.
Sly Bailey, the chief executive of Trinity Mirror, which publishes more than 100 free titles around the UK, says: "Free newspapers are in the frontline trenches of this war, simply because they only have advertising revenues."
Across Europe, newspaper groups are struggling to cope with advertiser migration to the internet as well as recession. Both represent the most serious threat of their type that the industry has faced in peacetime, Mrs Bailey says.
It is noticeable that companies with the most serious threats to their existence have a strong element of free newspapers in their portfolio. Mecom, the UK-listed publisher with operations in the Netherlands, Germany, Poland and Scandinavia, has postponed talks with its creditors as it struggles to sell off assets. Last month, Metro International, the world's largest publisher of free papers, announced plans for a rights offer after admitting it had breached its debt covenants and did not have sufficient working capital for the next 12 months.
Metro, which is Swedish-controlled and has daily readership of more than 18m from 81 editions in 22 countries, was looking to raise SKr550m ($65m, £46m, €50m) through its issue to shareholders. But later in February it announced it had received a takeover approach. Metro had already suspended operations of its fully-owned titles in Spain.
In the UK, Trinity Mirror and the rival Johnston Press, which between them publish around 230 freesheets, have both released dismal results in recent months, where the only bright spots were increases in circulation revenue at their paid-for titles.
Simon Baker, analyst for Credit Suisse, says that for regional newspaper groups in Europe, demand is still relatively strong and it is the advertising inventory that is really hurting. "The real solution for newspapers is to increase cover price to a new equilibrium to reflect better the balance between the consumer who really wants to read their content - and they really do - and the declining advertising demand," he says. "Obviously, for a regional newspaper publisher for whom the freesheet was the business model, that is a fundamental challenge."
Free papers were successful against paid-for incumbents because of their cheapness to produce. Nothing, however, that print has so far been able to think of is anything like as nimble as the internet.