Edwy Plenel writes: Mediapart's triple challenge began with an editorial challenge, that of reviving independent, dynamic and disobedient journalism that serves the right of citizens to know. There was also an economic challenge, being the first site of its kind to introduce a paywall, defending the value of news reporting against the ad-supported, free-access systems which drag quality downwards. Plus a professional challenge, that of inventing the new press of the technological revolution, totally digital, totally participative, totally multi-media.
Challenges met, thanks to the support of our readers, without forgetting, naturally, the engagement of all the team. Initially a pioneer, Mediapart is now an acknowledged online journal, recognised both for the quality of its reporting and for the freedom of its opinions. Disturbing the political and economic powers that be, Mediapart’s investigations and revelations have become an indispensable source of news, one that is respected for its independence. Far from the conformity and unanimity that puts democracies to sleep, Mediapart’s opinion positions have also contributed to making it a key participant in public debate.
A success illustrated by our results, whether it be the growth in the number of subscribers, the rise in staff numbers, or the increase in turnover. Every year, Mediapart makes public all data relevant to these activities, without exception. The particularity this year is the inclusion of the consequences of our dispute with the French finance ministry over the applicable VAT rate, the result of an unjust manipulation of the tax system to make us pay for our revelations of budget minister Jérôme Cahuzac’s secret foreign bank account. While Mediapart has lodged an appeal, we have already had to pay the tax authorities 2.5 million euros, and set aside another 1.6 million in our accounts.
The financial effect of this is to slow the building of capital that guarantees our independence, and also to hinder our editorial ambitions. Our freedom is too precious - and, in current times, too necessary - for us to drop our guard on the conditions that guarantee it; the first of these is to be profitable, not to become indebted, and to have reserve funds. In short, to have healthy finances. The condition for a solid and enduring independence is our economic profitability.
This is all the more so given that Mediapart is today an island of resistance amid a deeply transformed media environment. Less than ten billionaires now control France’s daily and weekly press titles, its radios and private television channels. Subjected to industrial interests, their independence is bullied. Made fragile by concentrations, their pluralism is in decline. That is one more reason for helping us to build our independence.
MEDIAPART IN 2015 IN FIGURES:
In 2015, the numbers of individual and group subscribers to Mediapart, who value the independence of their journal of reference, reached 118,000. Last year witnessed strong growth in every domain: growth in turnover (+20%, with total operating revenue of more than 10 million euros), growth in earnings, and the strengthening of the editorial team and operational services, with a total staff now of 65.
Research & Development
Mediapart continues to invest in R&D projects in association with theFrench National Research Agency (l’Agence Nationale de la Recherche). After PERIPLUS, another, called Epistémè, is the fruit of a partnership with the French Institute for Research and Innovation (IRI), the CEA digital systems research institute, and the French national scientific research centre, the CNRS.
In line with its engagements since 2010, Mediapart neither receives nor seeks any subsidies, whether that be from public funds (the French Strategic Fund for the Development of the Press) or from the private Google-backed press fund.
According to the principle of the equal status of the print and digital press, set out in France in 2009 in a decree which established the status of the online press, Mediapart (officially recognised as a journal of political and general information, IPG, by the French press regulatory commission, the CPPAP) applies the 2.1% VAT rate granted to the press, in accordance with the pledges of the government and professional associations. The tax authorities have addressed Mediapart with an adjustment for our activities prior to January 31st 2014, in which they demand 4,697,695 euros (including 1,349,462 euros in fines and interest payments). Mediapart entirely disputes the validity of this adjustment, and will continue with its legal case against the tax administration. Because this procedure is expected to last several years, the sums demanded have been provided for.
The support of our readers:
When the tax authorities announced the tax adjustment, a large number of readers came forward to help Mediapart: their donations in 2015 amounted to a total of 411,693 eruos, most of which was sent via the platform supporting the independent online press, jaimelinfo.fr
These funds help to reduce the negative effects of the tax adjustment on our accounts and allow us in 2016 to pursue our development and to build an enduring independence. Our infinite thanks go to everyone who has supported us.