Ladies and gentlemen, «The old books are for authors, the new ones for readers»: this thought of MONTESQUIEU seems more timely than ever. It is particularly true of the opinion press whose future concerns us and brings us together today. In fact, today more than ever, in the turbulent times of the press, the reader must be put back in the centre of the system.

As I have said several times, each reader has a relationship with his diary that is intimate, a kind of dialogue, sometimes, often even, contradictory, but to which he feels the need to always return.

Rebuilding this relationship, which has been badly damaged by the emergence of new media, is certainly a prerequisite for getting out of the current crisis affecting the press.
This crisis, all aspects of which are the subject of an unprecedented budgetary effort on the part of the State, is also rooted in a disruption of reading practices.

Young people born in the digital environment are heavy media consumers, but they unfortunately often miss out on an important part of the press, the opinion-forming one, that which contributes to a critical reading of current affairs in its citizen dimension: an increasing number of them do not, spontaneously
the act of buying a political and general news newspaper.

70% of 15-24 year olds are connected to the Internet, 82% even regularly consult several media at the same time. Young people, on the other hand, are increasingly connected: 44% of 6-8 year olds already surf the Internet regularly and a recent survey indicates that «chat» is the favorite activity (45%) of 12-18 year olds, largely ahead of school research (18.4%). These new customs show a desire to communicate and even to learn that is intact, and which, if better accompanied, can indeed constitute an opportunity for information, openness and exchange.

It is a fact that young people, in general, read less and less. In 1997, 70% of 15-24 year-olds reported reading a paid daily newspaper. There were only 58% in 2008. One might think, as professionals have believed for many years, that the habit of reading is naturally acquired with age, but this is less and less true. What
In the conclusions of the latest Survey on the Cultural Practices of French in the Digital Age that the Ministry of Culture and Communication has just published, it is striking that the habit of reading, if not taken from an early age, is not caught with maturity.

This is why, as this study reminds us, the reconquest of young readers is an essential future issue for the economic survival of the press as a whole and for its civic dimension. The press is the backbone of freedom. The integration of all youth into the democratic life of the country is at stake.

The approach adopted by the State and the daily press publishers that I have therefore wished to present to you today aims to give the press means of reconquering audiences that have partly escaped it, especially young people, on which an initiation can have a tremendous leverage effect.

It is therefore a question of taking proactive action to create and stimulate demand, to sow a desire for information and reflection: two inseparable elements of the vitality and quality of our democratic life.

The key measure, decided on last January by the President of the Republic, at the close of the States General of the Written Press, and of which I am pleased to announce today the effective implementation is the following: We offer all young people aged 18 to 24 to benefit, if they wish, from a free subscription for one year, on a daily basis of their choice, among nearly 60 national, regional and local press titles.

As the President of the Republic pointed out, this is a second stage, after a first experiment in the field of regional press in 2006, with the support of the Ministry of Culture and Communication, thanks to a specific budget, within the Press Modernization Fund (FDM). The idea, proposed in 2004
by Bernard SPITZ, has thus prospered, and finds a new breath this year with its expansion to almost all the French daily press, all press families combined.

And to meet the needs of the first edition of this operation, called «My Newspaper Offered», the Draft Amending Finance Law of the year 2009 endowed the Press Modernization Fund with an additional €5 million. They will finance free subscriptions for 200,000 young people aged 18 to 24
This flagship operation for youth will be renewed for three years, for a total budget of €15 million.

Almost all of the French daily press, 59 titles, to be precise, participated in the first edition 2009-2010. Concretely, each young person who wishes to benefit from the offer will be able to select, from a central Internet platform, put on line at
www.monjournaloffert.fr, the publication of his choice among these 59 titles.
This site will be presented later.

Based on the experiences conducted in the regional press since 2006, the formula we have chosen is the one that favors the length of the contact: a full year of subscription, to allow time to settle into the habit of reading.

To avoid a phenomenon of rejection on the part of a readership that remains to be familiar, the publishers wanted to favour a modular and progressive subscription of one copy per week.
First of all, I must admit, I was very surprised. It seemed more natural to me to provide a daily newspaper on a daily basis and for a more limited period. But it was in fact reacting as a fan of the press already conquered and open to a new «intimate» dialogue with another newspaper. The publishers have convinced me of the accuracy and finesse of their
approach and have demonstrated to me the risks that a too rapid transplant will provoke a feeling of rejection on the part of the target audiences, which would obviously achieve the opposite effect of the objective sought.

This measure, however necessary, is obviously not a panacea: to be truly effective, it must not be isolated. It must be part of an ambitious plan for media literacy. This is why we recently decided, together with Luc CHATEL, to set up a joint working group bringing together the
National Education and the Ministry of Culture and Communication. It will be responsible for making operational, for the 2010 school year, at least five of the measures recommended by the «youth» pole of the Estates General of the written press, co-chaired by Jeanne-Emmanuelle HUTIN, here present, and François DUFOUR.

I would like to thank all the actors who made possible the launch, next Friday, October 30, of an important communication campaign, based on a decisive alliance between all the media, from the most traditional to the Internet, Of course, this is a favourite territory for the young people we want to raise awareness of. I am thinking in particular of the group
PUBLICIS, and its President, Maurice LEVY, who was kind enough to put the talents of his excellent agency LEO BURNETT, represented today by its President, Jean-Paul BRUNIER, at the disposal of publishers and the Ministry.

And, before giving the floor to the representatives of Ouest France et du Monde, who will give us all the insights from their experience, I would like to remind you, finally, of a thought of VOLTAIRE that seemed entirely appropriate to our project: “The most useful books are those whose readers themselves make half.” By doing half of the
We may be giving these budding readers a chance to develop to the full this spirit of examination and dialogue inseparable from the proper functioning of our Republic.