Daily journalists Release, now separated from Patrick Drahi’s Altice group and transferred to a non-profit endowment fund, have a new editorial boss, after the departure of Laurent Joffrin to get into politics. They approved by a majority of more than 90% the proposal of Denis Olivennes, co-managing director, to appoint managing editor Dov Alfon, who directed the Israeli daily. Haaretz. Exclusively for Point, Denis Olivennes unveils his plans to make Libé a profitable daily.
Le Point: What is the mission of Dov Alfon, the new managing editor?
Denis Olivennes: Dov Alfon will implement the mutation of Libé towards the digital subscription, as he did at Haaretz in Israel. He transformed this progressive, but highly institutionalized newspaper into a weapon of combat through technology and by developing investigation, great reporting applied to daily life and the strong expression of opinions. This is exactly what we want to do. The objective is not to make Libé something other than what it is today. It will be the same daily, but first digital and which will develop in particular investigation, reporting and opinion. I believe that the massive vote in favor of Dov Alfon symbolizes a strong commitment from the editorial staff. This bodes well for the development of the journal. It has a solid foundation, high quality writing, a name that continues to shine and has a clear identity.
Release will he always be left?
Yes, Libé is clearly a left-wing daily. But this political commitment does not prevent it from being a serious daily journalistically. And Libé has an essential quality: it is not boring to read. Despite the daily misadventures and the successive teams, this spirit has remained generation after generation. A statue should be erected in honor of Serge July!
“Quotidien”, “Society” and so many others are children of “Liberation”.
What sets it apart from other dailies?
No daily newspaper has been so inventive and imitated. A bit like Canal + on television. Libé has revolutionized the treatment of sport, cinema with Serge Daney, culture with Gérard Lefort or even major reports applied to everyday life with Rolin. He gave an incredible place to the photo and invented the shift in the headline. The show Daily, the magazine Society and so many others are children of Release.
Read also “Liberation” makes its revolution
Yet it is a journal in poor health …
Today, the daily is circulated in about 70,000 copies and structurally accuses 8 million euros of losses.
What were the mistakes made in the past?
The newspaper has missed out on the two revolutions that the press has known over the past eight years: that of new models of digital advertising and that of digital subscription. He did not bet on the “Brand content”, the fact that brands can express themselves in new formats without affecting the integrity of the newspaper: Guardian at New York Times Passing by La Repubblica, all titles as demanding as Libé in terms of independence, however. Today, the newspaper has an extremely low level of advertising revenue, which represents 10% of its total turnover, compared to 30% to 50% for comparable titles. Digital advertising represents only 10% of total advertising revenue. Libé is therefore very late in this field.
On the other hand, the daily engaged only 2 years ago in the revolution of digital subscriptions. It has developed marketing tools, but has yet to fully position itself to become a subscription journal.
We want to reach 110,000 subscribers in 2023, compared to 40,000 today.
How do you plan to achieve financial balance?
Release is a light dinghy, it’s a small business. Balance will be achieved by reducing rents and administration costs, doubling advertising revenue and expanding digital subscriptions. Our business plan is solid and serious.
The development of subscriptions will be favored by a new editorial organization with a real news service, a “seated” editorial staff as Dov Alfon says, which will deal with immediate news, and a “standing” editorial staff which will produce the news. own contents of Libé, that is, subjects that others do not have. We will have new high-performance technological tools thanks to the acquisition from the Washington post of its software for publishing and managing digital content called “Arc Publishing”.
What is your goal of subscribers?
We want to reach 110,000 subscribers in 2023, compared to 40,000 today. The daily newspaper must have the audience of its notoriety to be able to live and develop. We will rely on the 180 journalists of the editorial staff. There will be an assignment clause, because it is the law. But I don’t think many will leave, because 90% of people voted for the project led by Dov Alfon.
How much will Patrick Drahi still invest in Release ?
Patrick Drahi has undertaken to cover the financing needs of the business plan, ie 17.4 million euros and the disposal clause. He is the donor of the endowment fund and can supplement it if necessary. But I hope that we will be able to self-finance our development.