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The Local France rolls out membership: Why it’s a positive move for readers

On April 10th The Local France introduced membership for readers. Editor Ben McPartland explains the move and why it will be positive for readers.

The Local France rolls out membership: Why it's a positive move for readers
Photo: AFP
Should I pay to join The Local France?
That's the question I hope readers will ask themselves today and over the coming weeks.
Our site, which has been free up until now introduced membership on April 10th. It's fair to say the news is still sinking in with many readers. But we are very grateful to the hundreds who have already signed up. 
Essentially this means that to continue having unlimited access to the site as well as being able to read the members' only “Premium” articles we will publish we're asking you to pay a contribution.
Although occasional readers will still be able to read a number of articles each month for free.
Currently you can sign up for monthly membership for just €5.99 for the first three months and then €4.99/month thereafter. Or you can opt for annual membership for €49.99.
Since the beginning the aim of The Local France has been to give readers the essential news that keeps them up-to-date and informed with what is happening in the country. We also try to debunk those foreign media stories about France that don't ring to us.
We've also tried to explain France to readers. Whether it's why they strike so much, why the word “Bonjour” is so important, or why Marine Le Pen never had a chance of winning the last election.
We have also tried to explain life in France for those who live here or are thinking about making the move. Whether it's the distinct working culture, the tax laws, the dining etiquette or just how to drive on a French motorway or take a train.
We also try to help readers with the essentials they need whether it's buying a house, getting French nationality or writing a good CV in French.
If we are not trying to inform you then we hope to entertain you even if it is at my own expense.
Some readers have commented that our news stories are available elsewhere. Indeed they often are and according to the many foreign correspondents I know in Paris, it's often because news media around the world are keeping a close eye on what we do. Of course we get very little public credit for this although I do get the odd pint bought for me.
For me The Local France is about being able to get everything you need to know about France and the life here in the one place.
So from my point of view membership is a positive step. Asking readers to pay brings a responsibility that will make us improve what we do.
But also if we can reduce our reliance on advertising we won't need to chase the clicks like pretty much all sites do these days. We can concentrate on the stories that matter to our regular readers.
Also having paid members will put more power at The Local in the hands of our readers.
We want members to help guide us on what stories or issues we need to cover and to help us cover them. We'll be feeding back our Members' input into our editorial decisions, to help you determine how we can serve you best.

We'll be redoubling our efforts to speak up for the international residents of France when they need our help. One subject we will cover in the next few day is the problem of foreigners being conned by other expats.

But some understandably say “why can't you just make money through advertising?”
The problem is we are working in an environment in which big global companies like Facebook and Google have snapped up a huge proportion of global advertising. We still have some brilliant advertisers, and will continue to value those relationships, but like most other media we also need other more stable forms of income.
More and more people are using Ad blocker software and Facebook has just changed its news feed algorithms so many regular readers can no longer see our stories.
Advertising alone can never reliably fund the kind of service we as a company and I as the editor of The Local France, want to offer you, our readers.
We want to do more and we want to do it better.
But everything we do costs money. We pay for the journalists, the office rent in Paris, the laptop computers that frequently cave in under the pressure of trying to cover France, we pay for news articles from Agence France Presse and we pay for photos.
We want to pay for more in the future including more freelance contributions from readers.
In short we believe membership will help us give you what you need to know about France.
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Join us: Why The Local France needs your support

In 2019 The Local France aims improve our coverage of France, the French and how the country works. And we need help from readers.

Join us: Why The Local France needs your support
Photo: AFP/The Local

In April 2018 The Local France followed in the footsteps of our sister sites in Sweden and Germany and launched a Membership scheme.

We had reached a point where the dominance of Google and Facebook meant advertising could no longer provide the resources to keep the site running and growing so we asked readers to support us financially by becoming Members.

It was a positive change because it meant we concentrate less on clicks and more on essential content for readers.

Being a Member gave readers unlimited access to the website and also enabled them to read certain in-depth articles reserved just for Members. 

So far nearly 3,000 have signed up to support The Local France. We are grateful for their backing. You can join now for just €6 for the first three months.


This has enabled us not just to continue our coverage of the important news events in France but improve it.
We've brought on board veteran France correspondent John Lichfield, a former foreign editor at The Independent, as a news columnist to provide opinion and analysis on the big stories. You can read his latest piece HERE.
His brilliant coverage of the Yellow Vest movement and the violent protests made him what another foreign correspondent called “THE voice” on the gilets jaunes.
In recent months we have also taken it upon ourselves to put the record straight when the foreign coverage of France is wrong, on everything from Brexit to new driving laws.
We have forged close ties with key campaigners for Britons in France such as Remain in France Together and reported on all the changes and upheaval the UK's EU divorce could bring to Brits here in our special BREXIT section.
We have also put your questions to some if the key Brexit players on the French side including Europe minister Nathalie Loiseau and MP Alexander Holroyd.
We have upped the number of advice articles to help foreigners living in France, covering themes such as how to avoid being conned, changes to driving laws, income tax, health care and very importantly how not to get shot during the hunting season.
For our American readers we have looked at how they can find work in France and also where in the country they all live.
And on request of readers we introduced a regular French Word of the Day and have a new feature where our news articles include useful French vocab to learn.
We have also done more to feature our readers on the site. We have a new series of articles with readers in France offering their tips on everyday life such as which phone company to go with, which French supermarket to shop at and what to do if you suffer from depression in France.
Our readers are experts on life in France so we have asked them to answer some of the many questions we get asked such as “how bad really is the paperwork here?” and “how good is the food ?”
It hasn't all been easy and we apologize to those affected by technical gremlins when signing in. We are working hard to solve these issues and we have recently set up a Help Centre for members.
Overall we think we do a good job but we want to do more. We want more expert columnists explaining France. We want to spend more time exploring the problems that foreigners have in France and most importantly providing the answers. We want to cover the important news in more detail and we want to respond to the questions our readers have.
But we need support. Please consider becoming a Member and getting more involved in The Local France. You can join for just 6 euros for the first three months, in other words seven cents a day.
Thanks and kind regards.
Ben McPartland, Editor of The Local France.