The popular French-language Le Matin tabloid, founded in 1893, is set to print its final paper edition on July 21. The change, caused by financial troubles, may result in up to 40 job losses. The title will continue to exist online, becoming the first Swiss daily to go completely digital.
After months of rumours, the Tamedia group confirmed on Thursdayexternal link that Le Matin, the most-read daily newspaper in French-speaking Switzerland, would print its final paper edition on July 21 before going 100% digital. It will be available free online.
The restructuring will affect up to 41 people, including 24 journalists and editors, Tamedia said. A consultation period has been launched for those affected by the announcement.
The Le Matin Dimanche Sunday newspaper will continue to be printed and is not affected by the changes.
Laurent Siebenman, who will become the new editor of the online version, said the paper will not be changing its editorial line.
“Le Matin remains Le Matin,” he declared. “It will remain slightly provocative, focusing on news, sport and entertainment.” The tabloid, found in most cafés and restaurants in French-speaking Switzerland, targets readers aged 35-55 and aims to be complementary to the free 20 Minutes newspaper.
Tamedia says Le Matin had been losing money for the past 20 years and the situation had recently got worse. In 2017, it lost CHF6.3 million ($6.42 million) and almost CHF34 million over the past ten years.
While it is a well-known title in French-speaking Switzerland (currently 218,000 daily readers), the tabloid has lost 80,000 readers in ten years, mainly due to competition from free newspapers and online news sites. Advertising revenues have also fallen steeply.
Press unions criticised the announcement, accusing Tamedia of behaving like the “undertaker” responsible for the death of press diversity in French-speaking Switzerland.
Nuria Gorrite, the president of the canton Vaud government, said the government had requested an interview with Tamedia management.
“Tamedia, which is a profitable company, is pulling the plug on a popular newspaper, one of the last French-language titles. It’s a blow to French-speakers’ identity,” she declared.