Big French press find brand power helps online
By James Mackenzie
PARIS (Reuters) - In a grimy part of eastern Paris a morning editorial conference is underway, similar to the planning meetings that go on in newsrooms everywhere, except this one is being blogged live and readers can join in.
The meeting is at Rue89, a news site (www.rue89.com) set up in 2007 by former journalists from the leftwing Liberation daily. It's one of several interactive sites to have appeared as a global crisis in the press squeezes French newspapers.
Sites like it -- the Gawker Media family of blogs in the United States, or Mediapart (www.mediapart.fr) and Bakchich (www.bakchich.info) in France -- have made a splash by filling niches that more traditional media have been slow to spot.
"There's someone saying that we don't have an international topic," says the journalist tracking comments on a laptop.
"What do they say? Do they have anything to suggest?" asks editor Pascal Riche.
In the end, the reader's suggestion of a story on Afghanistan is not taken up, but Riche believes such interaction between journalists and readers shows the future for news media in response to the challenge of the internet.
Rue89 uses the slogan "Information with three voices. Journalists, experts, Internautes," to describe a strategy of mixing its own journalism with commentary from outside specialists and internet-user contributions.
While some tech-savvy consumers may already have abandoned established print and television news in favor of collective information playgrounds such as wikipedia or Twitter, Riche sees clear limitations in such 'crowd-sourcing' of news. Continued...