Ouest France

Media format : Printed Press, Internet

Frequency : Daily

Geographical distribution area : Regional

Geographical area : France

Subtitle : ‘Justice and Freedom’

Website : www.ouest-france.fr

Media language : French

Country : France

City : Rennes

Address : ZI Rennes Sud-Est, 10 rue du Breil, 35051 RENNES

Created : 7 août 1944

Owner : “L’Association pour le soutien des principes de la démocratie humaniste“ [Non-profit organisation for the support of democratic humanist principles]

Status : Limited company

CEO, Publishing Manager and Editorial Manager : François Régis Hutin

Managing and news editor : Jean-Luc Évin

Editor-in-Chief : François-Xavier Lefranc

Mediator : None

Some figures…

Capital holder : SIPA - Ouest-France

Turnover : 305 million euros in 2012

Advertising : represents 42% of gross product and about 40% of the space in the newspaper.

Publication : 742 514 copies (OJD 2013/2014)

Staff : 543 journalists, 2 635 correspondents

Publication : Daily, from Monday to Saturday inclusive, and Sunday in a special format; 40 local editions.

Production units : Chantepie in Ille-et-Vilaine (5 rotary presses) and La Chevrolière in Loire-Atlantique (2 rotary presses)

Circulation area : 12 departments in Brittany, Normandy and the Loire regions, as well as Paris

Advertising : Précom (subsidiary for local and regional advertisers) and Com Quotidiens (subsidiary association with other newspapers) for national advertisers and for local classified advertising.

Background :

Ouest France was created just after the Second World War, taking over from Ouest Éclair which had been convicted for collaboration. It is the newspaper of one family – the Hutins – and one man – its founder-CEO, François Régis who still meets all journalists when they are taken on.

The newspaper is committed to its slogan of ‘justice and freedom’. Over time, it has taken a stand against torture and in favour of the causes of Abbé Pierre, Europe, the right to private education, the improvement of prison conditions, etc. However, there was no consensual position at the newspaper regarding the Algerian War and the Atomic Bomb.

These days, its values are more ‘humanist and civic’ than ‘Christian’.

Today, the newspaper prides itself on being the largest circulation French-language daily newspaper in the world.

Near its 70 anniversary, the first French daily newspaper change its status and will be nowadays manage by a management board and a supervisory board.

Print version

Complete answers

1.1. – Internal Code or charter? : Yes

The General News/News in Brief Charter was drawn up in June 1990 and later modified. The latest version is simply called Charters with commitments on the handling of general news/news in brief and justice, partnership programmes (emphasising the newspaper’s editorial independence regarding its 1 500 annual partnerships), how photos are dealt with, how multimedia works, etc.

In the first semester of 2009, the Charter was distributed to all the editorial staff in the interest of internal communication.

A public version has been available on-line since autumn 2009.

1.2. – How is their application monitored? : This is has not been formalised

2.1. – Journalist associations inside the media? : None

In 1965 Ouest-France created one of the first editor associations in France. It closed down in 1973.

There have been several attempts to start another one but these have always resulted in conflicts with the management and it still does not exist.

2.2. – What mechanisms are there to evaluate already published material? : None, but…

Review meetings are held when the scale of the news story justifies it (suburb riots in 2005, presidential elections in 2007, etc.). Analysis of the content can then be done by a legitimate person and a debate established between editorial and journalists, including ones from regional editorial offices.

2.3. – Which systems are in place to identify and correct errors? Fact checking? : Reread by the ‘chief editor of the day’

The chief editor of the day systematically reviews all articles for publication, sometimes after a department head has done so.

Each journalist is responsible for the relationship with their readers, so a journalist is notified directly if they have made a mistake. This is then corrected or clarified.

3.1. – What is the relationship between editorial values and advertising content? : Editorial values come first

One of the specificities of Ouest-France is that the principles outlined in its charters are applied equally to the advertising that appears inside the publication, so monitoring accountability is simple. When necessary, advertisements can be refused according to the clearly identified criteria in place.

3.2. – What arbitration systems are in place for disputes? : The editorial management team

Editorial management can refuse the publication of an advertisement. It monitors all newspaper content. To ensure that the newspaper’s humanist values are respected, the editorial management even checks the wording in the deaths announcements where the content often causes problems.

3.3. – What is the structure for sponsorships and editorial partnerships? : A specific charter exists

A partnership charter was signed on 9 October 2006 by the management and trade unions (CFDT, SNJ). Article 3 of this charter specified that “partnerships must never impact on the independence of editorial”.

The partnership conventions are signed for each department by the editorial manager concerned.

4.1. – How are press trips and embedded journalists managed? : These are rare and not made public.

In the rare event of an offer of a press trip, the editorial management decides whether or not to accept it.

What can be accepted are trips proposed by tourist agencies or by individual sports event organisers, such as sailing or car racing.

Also acceptable are trips for an event which includes a contribution from the newspaper.

It is not specified in the article that it is a press trip.

4.2. – How are conflicts of interests with the owner resolved? : This does not happen

The owner of the title is a group specialising in media.

4.3. – How are political and economic pressures managed? : Graded responses

Generally, local journalists and correspondents are more often subjected to pressure and this is usually political rather than economic.

Ouest-France organises ‘press relations’ training programmes in Chambers of Commerce and Industry or in individual companies. This has made a difference.

The departmental manager and agency heads – who have all had mediation training – are on the front line to defend editorial independence. The Management Board only intervene as a last resort.

Conflictual situations are rare and mostly concern correspondents. This is the reason the newspaper plans to reactivate the running of its network.

In the bigger cities, relationships with public figures are usually straightforward, but these can be more difficult in smaller areas. Generally, incidents are rare because most people do not wish to make waves. Local correspondents in small villages enjoy limited freedom but are cherished by editorial teams as it is so difficult to find correspondents due to the low pay.

4.4. – How is general news or “news in brief” treated? : A pioneering internal charter

Ouest-France drew up a charter to deal with general news and ‘news in brief’ in 1990, the first French daily newspaper to do this.

Since then, the question is regularly reviewed in order to ensure consistency and homogeneity by local editorial teams, and to avoid court cases, while staying true to the newspaper values.

4.5. – What criteria are there for the publication of photos/ transmission of filmed images? : Above all, the dignity of the person involved

In addition to the demands of the law, Ouest-France, does not publish any humiliating or degrading photos of people, remaining true to the newspaper’s values.

4.6. – How are amateur photos or videos treated? : Not used

4.7. – What is the status of permanent or freelance journalist blogs? : This is currently being reviewed

There is a plan for a working group to draw up a code of good practice for social networks covering both the searching for information and journalist contributions.

4.8. – What are the conditions for working undercover? : This is not allowed

The first principle of the photo charter for Ouest France stipulates that unauthorised photos are forbidden. It also forbidden to use unfair means to obtain information.

5.1. – What form of mediation is there with the public? Is there an ombudsman? : No

5.2. – Is there a section for public comments? : Yes

Readers’ letters occupy a considerable place thanks to a daily column at the end of the newspaper. About ten messages arrive every day, and they are dealt with by a chief editor.

5.3. – How is the ‘right of reply’ managed? : A formal commitment has been drawn up.

The commitment is clear: “All requests for the right of reply, whether or not expressed in terms foreseen by the law, must be dealt with politely and carefully. It is not only a question of the rights of a citizen versus the power of the press, but also a question of the newspaper’s relationship with its readers. Our image in the long term depends on the way this is handled. It must therefore always be discussed with our readers, but also internally, and before any decision is made. To avoid restrictions drawn up by the law, we try to offer a compromise satisfactory to the reader, without exposing our columns to undue attention: a correction – if there is a mistake, we correct it; a clarification – if there is information missing, we provide it; opinion – by readers’ letters or the forum; an editorial amendment added later – we commit to providing a reply as soon as possible”.

Each request for right of reply is subject to two viewpoints: the legal department and the head of department or chief editor.

Sometimes a request is rejected as it has no legal basis; if so, the editorial office will always provide a response indicating that this is the case. They will have the final word.

The number of requests for right of reply has halved in the last 20 years, as have other legal disputes. This is partly explained by the fact that all our journalists have had basic training in the Press and the Law.

5.4. – How are public visits organised? : Yes

Every evening, there are visits by trained students. Around 30 000 visitors are welcomed every year like this.

It is also possible to visit the two printing press sites if a booking is made beforehand.

5.5. – Are there organised meetings with the public? : These are decentralised with no organisational policy.

The newspaper still does not have a centralised point for criticisms or complaints coming from readers of the whole region.

We occasionally organise open days in decentralised editorial areas (photographic exhibitions, etc.). A conference room in the editorial offices in Rennes can house meetings based on a theme, but all initiatives are organised locally and there is no global policy on the subject.

François-Régis Hutin, or his daughter, intervenes regularly in front of targeted audiences when requested to do so.

Since 1968, we have four sociologists working on research and development. In the end they are the ones who organise most of the direct or indirect exchanges between readers and editorial.

There is no change in formula without a preliminary study of the readership, and the management follows closely any changes for the newspaper or for an individual section.

The idea is to prioritise examining the newspaper’s relationship with its readers in the context of its public service mission, rather than short-term marketing.

The relationships between journalists, readers and research therefore help to stimulate thinking about the editorial line to take and the practical arrangements to make, without resorting to the diktat: “the reader doesn’t want it so let’s abolish it”.

5.6. – Are journalist contact details made public? : No, but…

The e-mail address of the local editorial office is published in the print edition.

5.7. – How are internet forums managed? : Information not provided

6.1. – Moving towards green printing? : Yes

From 1998 to 2001, a study of public utility usage was carried out to ensure the organisation was up to standard: printing authorisation, noise measurement, etc. All areas were examined (waste management, air pollution, waste water, storage, lightning, pollution hazards).

Ouest-France was very late with this, so a large investment has been made and the site is now classified as an ‘environment protector’. All waste is collected, nothing is sent to the sewers.

Aluminium plates for offset printing are resold for recycling. Cleaning products are sorted and retreated. Non-volatile offset ink is used.

94.5% of paper is recycled. Unsold newspapers are recycled.

6.2. – How sustainable are the infrastructure and logistics? : Yes

At an infrastructure level, the old headquarter buildings did not comply with HEQ environmental standards. However, considerable effort was made to meet environmental standards in recent buildings such as the editorial offices in Nantes, even if HEQ standards were not met.

Energy-saving lamps and electronic ballasts are used in all editorial offices.

Selective sorting is not available in all local editorial offices but this is in progress. Ink cartridges are systematically recycled.

Coffee dispensers all use Fair Trade coffee.

To reduce pollution, Ouest-France commissioned a carbon report from a specialised agency using ADEME standards (Agency for the Environment and Energy Management). This had a dual objective: identify the mains reasons why greenhouse gases are produced and target ways of reducing them.

Low-energy cars are used (with the incentive of the Grenelle environmental bonus). We have also had a trial of electric scooters for newspaper delivery but this has been inconclusive.

Currently being planned is the installation of digital, non-polluting printing presses which will enable more production points and reduce delivery distances.

The newspaper also works to raise car-sharing awareness.

6.3. – Are suppliers selected according to sustainable criteria? : Yes

Particularly for the paper-mills supplying paper for the printing press.

7.1. – What initiatives are there for developing media literacy? : There are a number of structured initiatives

The paper has developed a site devoted to the press and young people: www.ouestfrance-ecole.com

Ouest-France is without doubt the most advanced French newspaper in its approach to developing media literacy and the links between the press and young readers.

The Rennes newspaper provides support for the launch of a school newspapers, practical workshops, definitions of journalism vocabulary, training for teachers about the press, on-line exercises, teaching aids for school teachers, video reports about the life of the newspaper, etc.

On average, 10 000 young people visit Ouest-France annually, as part of the schools programme.

Local youth correspondents, aged 16-25, write articles about young people. They meet twice a month to promote youth initiatives and publish 50 to 60 lines in local pages. An identification system is in place with a journalist from a particular editorial department.

Since 2005, Ouest France has provided three annual prizes of 1 000 euros for the best youth contributions from each region and the articles are published in a special booklet.

7.2. – Is support provided for media in emerging countries? : This has been a longstanding policy

Ouest Fraternité is a non-profit organisation created in 1992 to unite the goodwill of the Ouest-France Group around solidarity projects for the development of the written press in southern countries and democratically developing countries.

More than a thousand journalists and technicians have benefited from training and assessment in the Congo, Vietnam, Niger, Madagascar, or Kazakhstan, Haiti, Sudan, Macedonia and Armenia.

The newspaper also receives foreign /interns.

Europe Presse Solidarité is another professional training initiative in Eastern Europe.

8.1. – What commitments are there for continuous training? : There are strong commitments

Ouest-France has been making considerable efforts in terms of continuous training, double the legal minimum.

As well as refresher courses on professional basics, for the past 20 years particular emphasis has been given to the theme of Europe and since five years ago, to learning English. (At any one time there are 36 journalists having English lessons).

An internal continuous training programme was put in place with the creation of ‘competence areas’, an informal network of journalists from Head Office or local editorial offices on broad subjects, such as health, education, the environment, etc.

8.2. – Is there pay transparency?  : More or less

The salary grid is reworked every year by representatives from HR, trade unions and the head editorial team. It is publicly available.

There are automatic pay increases for a change of role, length of service and also individual promotions which are more infrequent and less transparent.

There are no individual bonuses.

8.3. – Is there an apprenticeship tax? : Journalism training centres

The apprenticeship tax is paid systematically to journalism training centres according to the centre’s relationship with the newspaper – continuous training, internships, recruitment, etc.

9.1. – How is corporate social responsibility applied? : There is great awareness

There is no department or member of staff in charge of the question of sustainable development or corporate responsibility. However, many posts take into account these environmental or social questions during the course of their work (HR, building engineer, industrial manager, car pool manager, etc).

A working group, charged by the Management Board, is assessing our carbon footprint.

There is a growing awareness of corporate civic responsibility and the need to implement changes.

These environmental and civic processes have not, however, become formal commitments.