The Guardian reports on 290 news vendors in Paris, who work 16 hour days for an average A$2,000 a month, staged a historic six-day strike over low pay and working conditions last month.
The story ends with this quote from one of the newsagents:
“At least half of what we get, sometimes up to 80%, is unsold. It’s madness: we have to be allowed a say in what we stock. That’s only common sense,” said Mr Maignan. “I’m in the middle of the financial district, so I sell a lot of business magazines. Colleagues in the suburbs won’t sell a single one – but they’re still given them all.”
These French newsagents are similar to Australian newsagents. Their channel was created by the publishers. While publishers have put their product elsewhere in pursuit of sales and moved content to new media in pursuit of advertising revenue, the channel they created has starved. While the publishers owe the channel nothing, there are opportunities for engagement which could benefit the publisher and the channel.
Publishers will bemoan the vast difference in compliance among newsagents as a reason for not engaging with the channel. There are ways this can be and ought to be addressed. All it would take is one publisher to pull back from going everywhere and focusing on the newsagent channel or even part of the channel in pursuit of a more viable model for both players.
To allow slow decay helps no one.
The Guardian story is timely and should encourage talks between publishers and proactive newsagents.