Mediapart was launched in 2008 by journalists of “the old press” as Edwy Plenel -one of the founders- likes to say. Their idea: furnish a journalistic work and be paid for it. Like in the traditional press but without any advertising. An economic model judged inappropriate for the internet. Though, it will be rentable in 2011.
“Print newspapers will die”: that is what we hear and read permanently since the launching of web 2.0. Information is available everywhere, at anytime. Ohmynews, an information website based on citizen journalism, even claims that “every citizen is a reporter”. Journalists should also be obsolete; without counting on their desire to evolve. Some of them get convinced that the internet was, definitly, journalism’s future. Mediapart came into existence because of this conviction. And, it is a newspaper.
A criticized model:
Mediapart represents the desire of some journalists of the “old press” to create a newspaper between print and web. Even if this newspaper is a pure player -meaning being published only on the web-, it insists on the news’ hierarchisation. The “une” is still present. Some articles appear to be less important. It seems like a new reflexion on “Journalism associated to Web”: stick to tradition but continue to evolve. The evolution represented by the fact that the website is “totally independant from the State and advertisers”.
Video of the launching of Mediapart, the ideology
During the foundators’ speech, the ideology of Mediapart’s journalists has been put into light: « the survival of Mediapart depends on you, citizen readers ». Contrary to the traditional press and other news websites Mediapart.fr is not financed by advertising. The readers have to pay to gain access to the articles. In 2008, it was unimaginable. How could a news website live without publicity? Thanks to the readers: a model which was very criticised, and was even judged as “stillborn“.
Still, that was the postulat of Mediapart. A model which is not followed by every pure-player. Slate.fr -the little brother of Slate.com- and Rue89.fr are free and principally based on advertising (approximately 60% of the revenue).
The unexpected equilibrium:
To the general suprise, Mediapart stopped loosing money in 2010 and hope to reach a total equilibrium in 2011, as Journalisme.com reported in november. It is not an isolated case: Rue89 plans also to achieve this goal in 2011 and Slate hopes to follow in 2012 -Slate was launched one year after Mediapart-. Mediapart won its first bet. It understood something important: internet does not always rime with under-quality. They bet on the investigation and revelation of verified, relevant and credible information.e. That is why it is now claiming for 56 000 users registred. The ambition is to become a gage of quality. Is the economic model of web’s newspapers found?
We cannot yet conclude that the internet is the future of journalism. It would mean validating the thesis “Newspapers are dead”. Rue89, thanks to its success even lauched a print version. The reverse way can though be taken : from the web to the print. Years will tell, let’s say.