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[en] In 2003, the majority of the team at Joystick, one of the leading French video game magazines at the time, left their publisher, Hachette Digital Presse, after its takeover by the subsidiary of British company Future to launch Canard PC, a weekly magazine dedicated to computer titles. This new magazine combines the caustic humor developed by Joystick over the years with a series of original ingredients. Despite a difficult start, Canard PC made its mark on the landscape of French video game magazines and is still doing well nearly seventeen years later.
Recently, in late 2017, an unprecedented challenge presented itself to the independent publishing company: Presse Non Stop. The distribution company Presstalis, which has a virtual monopoly in France, collected a quarter of the money it owed its customers. This substantial loss threatened the future of small actors. In order to recover from its loss, Canard PC used an original technique: in order to raise awareness among its readers, it made the affair public and launched a participatory fundraising campaign with an alarmist title: "Save Canard PC". It collected more than €210,000 and ensured the magazine's sustainability in the medium term.
We use Canard PC’s case study to question the future of paper magazines and identify some of the ingredients necessary to their survival. Our postulate to explain the longevity of this magazine articulates two elements: on the one hand, the long-term loyalty of a close-knit community that is attached to a specific editorial identity, and on the other hand, an irreproachable "professional ideology" (Deuze, 2005). We analyze, in close reading, all the editorials by Ivan Gaudé, publishing director of Presse Non Stop, that dealt with the Presstalis crisis in order to determine the so-built Reader Model (Eco, 1979). Through this analysis, we want to make explicit the link that we postulate between the relationship with the community and editorial autonomy. We will show that this link is based on the communication of the magazine's concrete difficulties and how readers can help to overcome them. In order to raise awareness on these issues, a meta-communication dimension concerning the production of the magazine appears to be essential. This meta-explanation thus makes the readers of Canard PC all the more aware of the value of what they are paying for in an environment that has been shaken by the digitalisation of information (this context has already been widely studied within media studies).