Case Study: Dijonscope (France)

The name of the publication and / or company

Dijonscope

Established

September 2009

Web Address

www.dijonscope.com

Form of the company

French equivalent of LLC

Describe your site or business in few words.

Dijonscope is a regional online news site with a strong identity for independent journalism. It is the first online daily regional to be officially recognised as a press organisation under French authorities. The mission statement representing the work of the journalists on the site is impassioned: Inform, investigate, and criticize.

The team of Dijon-based journalists focus on quality rather than quantity, with editorial decisions being more about cutting-edge investigative or informative reporting than following the day-to-day highlights from institutes – formerly the fodder of regional printed press. Their value for readers is in creating ‘ a rigorous and independent range of information, drawn and filtered by journalists and correspondents whose intellectual integrity is uncompromising’.

The site stands for clarity, and offering more understanding and even more media freedom. The editorial is not meant to be consensual but honest and fair, respecting the dignity of our audience, your dignity. The main ethos is ‘ we will not be a public service media but media serving the public’. It is this feisty drive for editorial independence and respect for journalists as a profession that has prompted Dijonscope to become Europe’s only online regional website behind a subscription, ditching advertising from December 2011. They are partners with Mediapart.

Staff numbers

Who’s creating the content

Content creators, paid full-time

6

Content creators, paid half time

4

Are some of the content creators citizen contributors or interns?

Having all the editorial team be officially registered and trained journalists is a key aspect of the business. There are six full-time and the equivalent of ten all together, freelance paid or paid part-time. In France, having all professional staff and no ‘citizen’ journalists is very important to Dijonscope’s identity and business model. In France, most regional and local sites are blogs which means they are not registered as official press organisations. To have the right to be called a registered press agent you have to be registered with the CPPAP – the publications and press agency commission. To be recognised as a regional news provider, you have to be registered appropriately, yet most people want to make the most of the democratisation of the press and start news sites. In France these remain firmly in the ‘blog’ camp and cannot officially employ people. In the regional landscape, start-ups have been restricted to either younger people starting sites but running them more unofficially, or older generations with enough money to be registered but who bring all the old elements of ‘doing news’ to the table.  That is why Dijonscope is so pioneering. Sabine was just 28 when it launched.

How is your time divided between doing business and content?

Sabine Torres: 60:40 business and content. I spend a lot of my time dealing with administration, accounting, marketing, sales, consulting, representing the organisation on panels, conference and speaking. A small part of my time now is editing and checking or verifying.

In May 2010 she own a court case against the traditional ‘print’ regional who accused the site of unfair competition. Dijonscope won. We want the same rights and transparency as our print legacy. The press is very opaque in France yet we want to make the relationship transparent again.

 

How they make money

Revenue models and sustainability

 

Would you say your business model is sustainable? How much is your yearly or monthly revenue?


Absolutely. However as one would expect, we have dropped half our readers since going on to a subscription model which is around 15,000 users a week now. We also have 7,000 a week subscribed on a free newsletter and a vibrant presence on social networks. She told CMC: In 2010 we had 60 000€ loss, in 2011 it will be around 15 000€ only so we are well on the way to balancing the books for 2012′.

Dijonscope wants 3 500 subscriptions at 5€ a month. So far she has 1,200 subscriptions. There were 650 in the first two months. 80% were on the yearly tariff which is helpful in terms of security and cashflow.this was their aim as it helps the business run more smoothly. They made around 12,000 euro a month from advertising so there is still some distance to cover in the switch over. In January 2012, we had 54.807 unique visitors**

** latest figures taken from

www.erwanngaucher.com/03022012Un-media-peut-il-claquer-la-porte-aux-nez-de-ses-annonceurs-,1.media?a=800

Where does your revenue go?

Paying employees investing in the quality of journalism.

How much do you pay to your contributors?

Full time paid salary.

What about profit?

To editorial.

What are your revenue sources

Membership or subscription fees and Donations

Do you see your publication as your main product?

If you go to a restaurant you pay for the food, not the chairs and the lighting. And I want to put that back with journalism. If you want great food you pay for it. If you want great journalism you pay for it. We put information of super richness, politics economy and details – we don’t do the rubbish. Therein lies the value of what we are selling. It is our information. It is our journalists. It is our skill. I believe in them and what they are doing. I also believe in the readership.

Regional has too long been thought of as something trashy, devalued, sensationalised and that everything online has to be free. I fundamentally do not believe that to be true. Regional journalism is the backbone of liberty or political justice – and there is a wealth of good reporting to be done if it is done properly. This is a mission.

It’s also about echoing what we believe in that mission in our business model, which is why we have changed our strategy to remove any advertising. I cannot stand advertorial. I have always said there would never be any on this site. You should not be able to buy the opinion of a reporter.

What would be the most important thing on your road to sustainability?

It has to be to gain the confidence of the public. Readership isn’t falling because people don’t want to read it or because they are more stupid now than they were. It’s because they don’t have any faith in journalists or media products. It’s all got to stop.  We have to work to re-establish discretion rigour and quality. We have to prove we merit the profession of journalist. We have to show humility and that we are capable of being neutral, and that neutrality as a fundamental trading ethic of what it means to be a journalist and produce journalistic content.