DIRECT MESSAGE: Staffers at Grazia France have published an open letter in which they express concerns about the planned sale of the title by Mondadori France to Reworld Media.
The parties entered into negotiations on Sept. 27, and speculation has swirled about the fate of Grazia’s journalists, against a backdrop of rumors that editor in chief Joseph Ghosn may soon replace Anne Boulay at the head of Vanity Fair France.
Ghosn and Condé Nast International declined to comment on the matter. Ghosn told WWD he was fully focused on the fate of Grazia France in the event the weekly magazine changes hands. “The editorial team is worried. The person who is buying us has a reputation that doesn’t fit with our values,” he said.
Reworld Media is in talks to buy the whole Mondadori France catalogue from its Italian parent company. If both parties come to an agreement, Reworld Media will own 33 magazines including Grazia, Biba, Sciences & Vie, Closer, Télé Star, Auto-Plus and L’Auto Journal, becoming the leading French media group.
Under the leadership of owner Pascal Chevalier, Reworld Media posted revenues of 185 million euros in 2017.
In an open letter published on the web site of French daily Le Figaro late on Tuesday, the Grazia editorial team asked for a meeting with Chevalier to hear more about his plans for the publication.
“The methods and raison d’être of your company, described in recent articles about you, are the opposite of our methods and our identity,” they wrote. “The words ‘press’ and ‘journalism’ don’t seem to figure on your web sites or in your statements.”
The journalists said they were afraid the change in ownership would impact the editorial direction of the magazine, referring to a recent story in French newspaper Libération titled “Un conseil: ne bosse jamais pour eux” (“A word of advice: never work for them.”)
“Once you have bought Mondadori, will you put in place a media company or an advertising and ‘brand content’ agency?” they questioned.
In 2014, Reworld Media bought eight magazines from Lagardère Active, including Be, Pariscope, Première and Psychologies. However, Ghosn noted that Grazia was in better shape than some of those assets were at the time of their sale.
“Pascal Chevalier’s business views seem very different to ours, but for the moment I don’t know anything about his project,” he said. “If you compare the state in which his group found other titles it has previously bought, like Marie France and Be, the publications were at a low point, which isn’t our case.”
He cautioned that Grazia’s performance was a reflection of its editorial positioning. “If indeed a deal is made, he will have to adapt to our team, especially if he wants Grazia to keep its strength, its positioning and its current influence,” said Ghosn.
A first open letter had been published by trade unions on Oct. 3, reaching out to the Mondadori parent company in Italy. Mondadori is controlled by Fininvest, held by the Berlusconi family.
Mondadori France employs 700 people. Journalists plan to stage a protest on Thursday in front of the Ministry of Culture in Paris.