FRANCE’S second-largest economic daily, La Tribune, has suspended debt repayments while it seeks new investors. Le Monde, the country’s greatest newspaper, found new investors in June but seems to have lost its way and is looking for a new editorial director. Bakchich, a satirical weekly, said on January 11th that it will close for want of funds.
France’s national newspapers are shrivelling. The eight main national dailies together sell 1.2m copies a day—about the same as Britain’s slumping Daily Mirror. News-stand sales in November were 10% lower than a year earlier. For La Tribune the fall was a disastrous 33%. The overall drop in sales, including postal and delivered subscriptions, was less steep.
Christophe Deloire, director of the Centre for Journalist Training in Paris, traces the problem to France’s first newspaper, La Gazette, founded in 1631 under the auspices of Cardinal Richelieu. Since then “the French press has been dependent on power,” he says; this has blunted its edge. That dependence was underlined in 2008 when President Nicolas Sarkozy summoned an “Estates General” of the press. More money was thrown at the problem, including free subscriptions for young readers and handouts for new printing machines. The downward trend continued.That whoosh of air you heard was the last breath of my hopes of fulfilling the prophecy from junior year French with Madame Cronin, the one with me ending up at Paris Match or L'Equipe. Zut alors!