› The press
media: daily and weekly newspapers in France
to the press in the UK, French
newspapers play a considerably smaller role in the life of the nation.
The French newspaper industry is characterised by a lack of mass-market
national dailies, a lack of the kind of heavyweight Sunday newspapers
that one finds in English-speaking countries, and above all the absence
of the kind of frivolous and muck-raking daily and Sunday tabloid press
that is so
omnipresent in the UK.
Apart from the absence of "Sunday
papers" and of a
popular muck-raking national tabloid press, newspapers in France
are as varied as anywhere.
Almost all French newspapers
have lost readers and circulation since 2000, and are continuing to do
so. The fall has accelerated since 2011, as disposable income in France
has contiued to decline. For some, such as Le
or France Soir
the fall in sales – due to the rise of free newspapers, the
downturn, and the Internet – has threatened or is
their survival. Indeed, France
was closed down in 2012.
Circulation figures below are quoted from the OJD - the
French bureau of circulation.. Figures refer to the average number of
copies purchased per issue in France
( "Les quotidiens")
three major national quality dailies, Le Monde, Le Figaro
between them, they target the same kind of educated reader market as
serious quality papers – the so-called (former)
"broadsheets" – such
as the Times
and the Guardian
in the UK, or the New
, the Boston
or the San
in the USA. There is however one major
difference; French quality dailies are on the whole more intellectual
and more left of centre than their counterparts in the main
Other main national dailies.
the best-selling of the three, is the only one that is clearly a
conservative newspaper. It is also the oldest of France's daily papers,
and was founded in 1826. It tends to appeal to well-off educated
readers, people with good jobs, particularly in the private sector. It
is at the same time the closest French equivalent of the Daily
of the Times;
yet its average circulation in 2018 was only 317,300
- about 85% of the circulation of Britain's
Daily Telegraph. However, it is interesting to note that le
Figaro has lost less than 5% of its sales in 10 years, while the Daily
Telegraph has lost almost half.
Monde, founded in 1944, is the paper of the
establishment, though a paper that is closer in its political
positioning to the Guardian
in the UK, than it is to the Times.
It is the preferred daily of French intellectuals, civil servants,
academics, particularly those in the higher echelons. It is the
newspaper that gives the most detailed coverage of world events and of
politics, and a paper which is a major forum for political and
intellectual debate and discussion. Being the newspaper of the
establishment, it is also the newspaper that best reflects French
opinion on international issues, and the French daily that is most read
outside France. It is an evening paper. In 2014 Le Monde's daily sales
in France were 302,000, up from 273,000 six years earlier.
The paper was the subject of a bitter
refinancing clash in 2010, and was eventually taken over by a
trio of top businessmen with left-leaning sympathies. In
autumn 2011, it announced a return to profitability.
founded in 1973 by Jean-Paul Sartre and other left-wing intellectuals,
as a newspaper for the '68 generation. Initially it was a newspaper of
the far-left, though not one that toed the line of any political party.
Over the years, as its readership grew older, "Libé" matured
more centre-left newspaper, similar in many ways to Britain's "Guardian".
centrist position became more pronounced after it was saved from
collapse by Edouard de Rothschild. However, Rothschild's involvement
led to severe tensions among editors and journalists, and the newspaper
sold only an average of 113,000 copies a day in
2010. It improved its situation slightly in 2011, climbing back up to
119,000 copies a day, but by 2018 had fallen back to just over 70,000.
- This is much better than
a fourth well-known daily, l'Humanité
– founded by the early socialist leader Jean
From 1920 to 1999, L'Humanité
was the unofficial, then official, newspaper of the French Communist
Party; since 1999, it has been editorially independent, but is still
largely written, produced and promoted by Communist Party members or
sympathisers. Its daily circulation in 2014 was down to 38,000. In
2019, the newspaper went into administration, but has since been saved
by public subscriptions and a state grant, but remains on the newspaper
equivalent of life-support.
A newspaper devoted almost exclusively to sport, L'Equipe is one of the
best selling of France's national dailies, with a 2018 circulation of
Parisien / Aujourd'hui en France : These mid-market
tabloids, one for Paris,
the other for the rest of France, are more or less the same newspaper
with different regional editions: they appeal to the same kind of
readership as Britain's Daily
Mail, or America's
USA Today, and pay plenty of attention to "people" and the
glitterati, as well as anecdotal news. Between them in 2009, they had a
circulation of 477,000, which would have made them them the
title in France if they were a single title. But since then
circulation has dropped off sharply, and in 2018 was only 306,000 -
putting them into second position behind le Figaro.
Echos: France's equivalent of the Financial Times
the Wall Street Journal,
a major national financial and economics daily, with an average
circulation of about 130,000 in 2018, and rising slowly. Similar to Les
Echos, but with a smaller
readership, was La
Tribune, which ceased publication in 2011.
paper ceased publication in 2012. Once
the most popular paper in France, France Soir, a mid-market evening
paper, sold over a
million copies a day in
the 1950's, its heyday. But the paper's circulation figures dropped
regularly and the print edition if the paper was finally closed in
December 2011. The paper continued to appear as a 100% online
newspaper for the following seven months, but finally went out of
business in summer 2012.
Croix: though by tradition a Catholic daily, La Croix has
in recent years become much more of a mainstream newspaper. With a paid
circulation of over 90,000 in 2008 and 94,000 in 2010, it was one of
rare French daily papers to have increased its readership since the
start of the century, and circulation in 2014 was still higher than in
2000. Circulation has remained pretty stable since then
- Metro: former
leading French free daily, similar to
editions of the same title in other countries. Over 300,000 copies
distributed in the ten major
French cities. No longer available in print form.
- 20 Minutes :
Current market leader in the Free newspaper catefory, with close to
900,00 copies distributed daily in French cities. The newspaper claims
strict neutrality in its reporting, along with rigorous fact-checking
to avoid any publication of fake news.
More people in France read regional dailies than national ones, and
some of the regional dailies have very big readerships indeed.
Most regional dailies are mid-market tabloids.
France, published in Rennes, is the
biggest-selling daily in France, with an average circulation of 646,000
(copies bought) in 2019, some 10% down in ten years... It is sold, with
area variations, in the regions of Brittany, Normandy, and Pays de la Loire
Ouest: regional daily published in Bordeaux, and
distributed throughout Aquitaine,
and in parts of Poitou-Charentes
With a circulation of over 300,000, it is one of the largest French
Dépêches du Midi: published in
Toulouse and sold mostly in
region, this big-selling regional daily (185,000 copies) reflects the
centre-left "radical" political tradition which is strongly anchored in
Républicain; regional daily published in Nancy,
the regions of Lorraine and Franche-Comté;
circulation over 200,000
Libre, published in Montpellier, is sold throughout Languedoc Roussillon and
Nouvelles d'Alsace; the regional daily for Alsace
Sunday press in France
"Sunday papers" are not an institution in France, as they are in the
UK. There are only two notable specifically "Sunday"
and one of them comes out on Friday. They are
Dimanche (published each Friday), which is
largely a people magazine published by the Hachette group;
- le JDD, Journal
du Dimanche, which could honestly advertise itself using
the slogan once misused by one of the UK Sunday papers, as
"Le JDD is
the Sunday Papers" in France. The JDD is a serious Sunday
newspaper, and is also published by Hachette. It is much read
the business community.
there are hundreds of specialist weeklies in France, there are four
main newsmagazines that play the role equivalent to that of the Sunday
broadsheets in the UK. They are.
- Formerly the Nouvel
Observateur, founded in 1964, l'Obs is
a centre-left newsmagazine generally supportive of the French left-wing
intellectual tradition. Circulation around 500,000.
- Founded in 1953, on the model of America's Time
magazine, l'Express is a centre right weekly with plenty of economic
coverage. Circulation around 420,000.
Centre-right newsmagazine known for its investigative journalism, and
independent thinking. Critical of the political establishment
general, left and right. Circulation around 400,000.
- Centre left "republican" newsmagazine, with a social-liberal bent,
founded in 1997. Circulation around 200,000.
While all French newspapers now have online versions, mostly on the
freemium model with some free articles and the rest for subscribers
only, there are also three major online news sites.
- France soir (once
France's leading evening newspaper) now only available online
- An investigative news site
- Rue 89 -
a centre left online news site that now belongs to l'Obs (see
above) , France's leading centre-left newsmagazine.