The still ongoing consolidation of the press in this canton will make at least one person happy: me!
In what I believe to be a totally misguided attempt at forcing readers to switch to the electronic versions of the two most-read newspapers in the Swiss canton where I live (Vaud) with a view to saving money, Ringier, the Swiss-German group that owns 24 Heures and Le Matin (issued respectively Monday to Friday and on a daily basis), has decided to stop making these newspapers available from coin-operated boxes. Except for the Sunday edition of Le Matin, readers now have to buy either of the two main Lausanne-based newspapers from their newsagent or ‘go digital’ (i.e. subscribe to the online version). This means that newspaper boxes and the headline sheets placed just under them (or inside the box) are likely to disappear from the streets of Lausanne in the near future.
Leaving aside my firm belief that this will diminish the respective readerships further* and my suspicion that this also has to do with the present war on cash, I hereby wish to extend my sympathy for those whose job has been or will be axed (for instance, the early birds who would stack the many newspaper boxes scattered around Lausanne and at many, many other locations in the canton on weekdays and collect the coins) and the journalists likely to be let go of, as with a further erosion of newspaper sales, it will only be a matter of time before another round of job cuts is made. The more so as on the 23rd of last month, the same Swiss-German group announced that today (i.e. on 2nd February) it would be pulling the plug on the only current affair magazine published in French-speaking Switzerland, L’Hebdo, which was founded in Lausanne in 1981.
The migration of news and information from paper to electronic formats (available from television sets, various computing devices, telephones) has certainly taken its toll on the printed press here in Switzerland and in particular in the French-speaking regions. Worse, the future looks very bleak for the press in this part of the country given that it seems to be trapped in a vicious circle of continuously dwindling readership numbers, ever-lower advertising revenues and, as a result, ever-poorer journalistic quality.
The robots and Matt Damon are coming! (14th Jan 2017)
For my part, even though I reiterate that I feel deeply sorry for those affected by the redundancies, I must admit that I shall certainly not miss the boxes’ sensationalistic, sometimes even crass, headlines printed onto a A6 or B5-sized sheet hanging loose under each box and penned to grab the attention of the passer-by with the hope of getting them to purchase a copy of either newspaper belonging to the same group.
This is because far too often, I would find the subject matter plastered across the placard either to be trivial, irrelevant to my life/concerns or that the headline was titillating the reader in the wrong direction, for instance, by pandering to the reader’s baser instincts (e.g. the voyeuristic streak in humans). In addition, I came across several posters most likely designed to add to the current climate of tension between the (post-)Christian and Islamic worlds. In particular, I found the following headline poster especially objectionable:
To cut a long story short, this recent, additional cost-cutting measure by a media group based miles and miles from home means one source of mental pollution removed from my life…
*The unstated objective is probably to have at most two Lausanne-based newspapers in the group’s portfolio, either of the two quasi-tabloids 24 Heures and Le Matin plus Le Temps, a slightly higher quality title owned jointly by the same Swiss-German group and a well-known German media conglomerate.
‘As print journalism declines, fate of sidewalk newspaper boxes is unclear’, Max Kutner, Newsweek, 20 Dec. 2015