Abstract of the article (in French) :Et si les coopératives étaient l’avenir de la presse ?, by Pauline Porro, Ina Global, August 30, 2018
Ina. Illustration Martin Vidberg
The press is in crisis and is trying to reinvent its economic model. The article provides an overview of the media companies in France that have opted for the cooperative status.
Among the 35,047 press cards awarded in France in 2017, 32 would be press companies, 6 in Scic (cooperative society of collective interest) and 26 in Scop (participative cooperative society) (including news agencies and publishing of newspapers, periodicals and magazines), ie 228 employees.
In view of their operation, which is based on the pooling of information collection means, especially internationally, the cooperative is a status particularly suited to news agencies. Thus, the Associated Press has a cooperative status, like the German agency Deutsche Presse-Agentur, or Reuters until its IPO in 1984. But in contrast to news agencies, where the choice of cooperative status is justified by a certain economic rationality, the choice of this status for an out-of-agency media is more a matter of compliance with values, notably that of the SSE. But it can also be the fruit of history: indeed, at the end of the Second World War, the cooperatives or the Sapo (public limited company with worker participation) are numerous within the press resulting from the Resistance.
Cooperative status has concrete repercussions on the one hand,
– the strong involvement of the staff that find themselves both employees and owners of capital;
– explains the resilience of these companies, which are often higher than the national average, showing an accumulation of reserves in good years and prudent management, uncontaminated by the search for profit at all costs;
– the safeguard of jobs in situations where so-called traditional firms resort to redundancies.
However, when heavy investments are needed – the digital transition for example – the cooperative model can become a weakness, especially in such a competitive environment. In addition, it also causes difficulties raised by the set up, the formalism and the delays to settle which can be dissuasive to carry out such a project. Approaches of other statutes are currently being explored to guarantee employees a place in the governance bodies, ensure editorial independence while sharing the philosophy of a cooperative society.