The leaders of Nethys and Philippe Lawson have decided on an “amicable” separation.
Philippe Lawson, editorial director of Éditions de l’Avenir, and the managers of Nethys, parent company of L’Avenir, have decided on an amicable separation.
The two years spent in the editorial management of Éditions de L’Avenir and L’Avenir Hebdo have not been easy for Philippe Lawson, who himself describes them in a press release as “enriching, but exhausting”.
Les Éditions de l’Avenir was indeed shaken by a major restructuring, the starting point of which was the announcement in October 2018, by the management, of its desire to eliminate 60 full-time equivalents, out of a total of 280 workers. This number had been reduced in December 2018 to 45 full-time equivalents, including 31.74 within the editorial staff.
There followed months of sharp tensions between the journalists on the one hand and the newspaper‘s management on the other, which saw the publication of an edition of the newspaper symbolically cut by 25% of its content or the adoption by the drafting of a motion of distrust with regard to Philippe Lawson.
A mediation by the Association of Professional Journalists (AJP) had finally led to a social agreement limiting the number of redundancies to four people and confirming a reduction in the workforce of 43.09 full-time equivalents. Finally, three redundancies were decided by management and denounced as targeted by editorial representatives.
Former journalist at La Libre Belgique and L’Echo, Philippe Lawson was recruited by Nethys to bring to Éditions de l’Avenir “his expertise in digital transformation and editorial strategy” and to provide the group “with its network. “.
Philippe Lawson’s departure comes as Éditions de l’Avenir (L’Avenir and Le Journal des Enfants) and the periodicals Moustique and Télé Pocket, owned by Nethys, are in the process of being sold to the IPM press group (La Libre Belgique, The Last Hour / Sports). Enodia validated the agreement, which must now receive the approval of the Competition Authority.
Regarding his professional future, the journalist indicates at most that he “now wants to develop new editorial projects and evolve in a new environment”.
Reaction of the SDR (editor’s society) and the AJP (association of professional journalists)
The announcement by the new management of Nethys of the negotiated departure “amicably” of Philippe Lawson, this Tuesday, August 4, brings several reflections in the head of the representatives of the drafting.
1. Journalists from the EDA have been calling for this departure for a very long time, with a great deal of support from almost unanimous motions of no confidence, voted on at general assemblies. The editorial director was in fact already absent for months and no longer directed the editorial teams. We take note of a long-standing reality.
2. The parachuting of an editorial director by the former directors of Nethys, after having pushed the former editor-in-chief who had the support of the editorial staff to the door, had made it possible to not respect the editorial independence charter. This imposes, in fact, the opinion of the SDR before the appointment of an editor of which we are still deprived. Parachuting, in addition, of an editorial director without a clear job description. This only created a blur in the organization of the editorial staff and increased discontent among journalists.
3. Tensions between Philippe Lawson and the editorial staff were incessant. They reached their climax with the dismissal by the latter of three colleagues, the same ones who then received a prize from the Wallonia-Brussels Federation for an investigation entitled “How Stéphane Moreau and Pol Heyse have scuttled the Future”, published in February 2019, at the height of the crisis that shook the newspaper. Rewarding the quality of their work and their fight for the independence of our media. A fight that they paid dearly for. From that point on, after a general meeting, reporters told former Nethys executives that it was definitely impossible for them to work with Mr. Lawson again. And in fact, the editorial staff no longer worked with him.
4. SDR and AJP, on behalf of the journalists, wish Philippe Lawson the best possible continuation of his career.