French trees shout: Vive l’online!

French trees shout: Vive l’online!

: Editors Weblog tells us (who don’t speak French) about a report from a French government think tank predicting the demise of daily, printed newspapers.

The reaction to this is typically French/EU: Spend some government money to swim against that tide.

Says John Burke at the weblog:

A report just released by a French government think tank that analyzes present situations and predicts the future of various public and private organizations paints a bleak picture for the future of the French printed press. The threat from the Internet and foreign news sources will, according to the think tank, transform all French news organizations into multimedia companies, of which only 2 or 3 will be left standing by 2011. Result: ” a majority of newspapers will disappear by 2011… if nothing is done”.

The report cites the need of French government aid to journals that undergo innovative reforms and that improve their public service. To further involve young readers, French government subsidies should be used to provide free temporary subscriptions for 18 year-olds. For the French media in general, the report calls for improved training for journalists, a radical reform of Agence France Presse, and a reform of news distribution.

Did they create a tax to feed the horses when the car came along?

Here and here I swatted at the notion of government helping journalism for then it can be used to influence journalism. Just ask PBS.

Beyond that, though, if the people want to get their news online why not give it to them there? If the French government wants to support something, wouldn’t it be better to support the future than the past? Wouldn’t it be better to underwrite development of online? Or are they afraid it will steal marketshare from the Minitel?