The owners of Libération, the French left-leaning daily renowned for its bold headlines, announced on Saturday the 8th of February, that the newspaper was to become “a social network, producing monetizable content for a large array of multimedia platforms (print, video, television, digital, conferences, events, radio,…).”
The newspaper is in a deep financial crisis, with an annual loss of €1.5 million in 2013, due largely to steep decline in print sales. The employees rejected a savings plan including a 10% cut on salaries in January, and went on strike on Friday the 7th of February (no edition of the newspaper this day).
Libéland, Libémarket, Libéworld
In order to find “new solid sources of growth”, the owners of Libération want to transform the “print newspaper publisher” in a “content producing social network”. They also announced to be working with designer Philippe Starck on a plan to move the newsroom to another cheaper location, and to use the current headquarters as a “cultural and conference hub including a TV set, a radio studio, a digital newsroom, a restaurant, a bar and a start-up incubator.”
This hub would be open to all, journalists, artists, writers, philosophers, politicians, designers, and would be totally dedicated to the “Libération” brand.
The newsroom rejects the plan, condemning the lack of dialogue and of reference to the historical values of the newspaper, the unique focus on “monetization”, with no reference to news, journalism or information.
Update, February the 8th at 12:27pm CET
In an email sent after the announce of the 7th of February strike, one of the owners of “Libération” Bruno Ledoux wrote that the move to disclose the “social network” project and the plans for the newspapers’ current headquarters has one goal: “I want to show how dorky these narrow minds are”, (…) “show everybody what is currently at stake: on one side, bankrupt, on the other side, a vision.”
Saturday the 8th of February front page:
We are a newspaper,
not a restaurant,
not a social network,
not a cultural hub,