By: Ronnie Willis, Sales Engineer, NEWSCYCLE Solutions


A media company in Canada has claimed huge success with a digital product — a huge enough success that the company killed the print newspaper it had been producing for more than a century. On Dec. 30, Montreal’s La Presse printed its last Saturday edition, becoming the first legacy media company that can truly say it has gone “all-in on digital.”

Along with real-time updates at LaPresse.ca, Canada’s French-speaking readers and advertisers are served by La Presse Plus, a tablet edition updated at 5:30 a.m. daily.

Pierre-Elliott Levasseur, the president of La Presse, said in a statement on June 1, 2017, announcing the end of the print edition that 90 per cent of revenues come from its digital content.

Why has La Presse Plus been a success where your digital initiatives haven’t? Why did another large Canadian media company fail with exactly the same idea and technology purchased directly from La Presse?

It’s really a fairly simple formula. It also is not easily replicated. Or is it?

The most important ingredient is unique, relevant stories, photos and videos that readers can’t get anywhere else.

La Presse Plus provides this — not necessarily by providing totally exclusive stories, but by being the leading outlet where its more than 500,000 readers can get those stories in French. So, to its readers, all of its content is “unique.” La Presse serves its market by providing quality information in the language its readers speak. The readers moved to the platform where those stories can be found.

Comparing your local media operation to La Presse, given the unique nature of the market it serves, is most likely a non-starter.

Chances are your readers don’t speak a language that only 20 percent of your country speaks, so you don’t have that advantage. And they may or may not be tablet users; in fact, it’s increasingly likely that they are not.

But what is unique about your readership?

The platform is only part of the recipe. The most important ingredient: Unique, relevant information your readers can’t get anywhere else. Subscribers will pay for this.

A newsroom with:

  • A vibrant, diverse group of reporters;
  • led by reader-savvy editors who are engaged with local readership;
  • and equipped with the right tools

will produce stories that have unique value. That’s the starting point for a local media company seeking digital success.

Investing in the newsroom is expensive. But it’s probably a more realistic investment – and will certainly pay off more quickly — than teaching your readers another language.