Tuesday, May 3, 2011

French Newspapers—The Space-Time Continuum


When you buy a newspaper in France, you enter a time warp. The laws of physics no longer apply. If up-to-the-minute reporting is what you are after, you may be in for a surprise.


Say you want to buy Le Monde, France’s most prominent national paper, on a Tuesday. You go to the newsstand Tuesday morning, but the only Le Monde available is from Monday. That’s because Le Monde comes out at 3pm. So you wait until 3pm and buy the Tuesday paper, but the news in it is from yesterday. In fact, many of the articles on the front page are news analyses of events that happened earlier in the week.


But that was the easy part. When you look at the paper you bought on Tuesday afternoon, it is dated Wednesday. So in fact, you are reading a paper with news from the past that appears to come from the future.


It gets worse. Let’s say you want to get the weekend edition, which has the magazine in it. You waltz up to your local news vendor Saturday morning, full of optimism. But no, the weekend edition, i.e., the Saturday edition, came out Friday. Now you have to wait until 3pm again (it’s still Saturday, remember) to get….the Monday edition. There is no Sunday paper.


Feeling frustrated, not to mention jet lagged, I tried other papers. Libération comes out on the morning of the day it’s supposed to be, but the articles have all the newsy urgency of a late night discussion over a bottle of wine. France Soir, despite its name, comes out in the morning. I don’t have the courage to try the Journal du Dimanche, for all I know, it comes out on Wednesday.


Which leaves me with Le Parisien, which is the Parisian equivalent of the New York Daily News. It comes out when it’s supposed to, is dated logically, and actually has the latest news. It may not be of the highest journalistic value, it may not have Le Monde caliber writers, but it gets high marks for living in the present.


Actually, the most newsy newspapers are the ones you get for free on the Métro, i.e., Métro and 20 Minutes. Which also seem to be the only newspapers that are thriving in this Great Newspaper Crisis era. But to tell you the truth, I have pretty much given up on the French newspapers for up-to-the-minute events. For that, I either go to the Internet, or more frequently, the radio. That old-fashioned thing with the dials does a great job in France, where there are excellent stations like France Inter and France Info.


So let’s hear it for the radio. It doesn’t cost anything, it doesn’t need to be recycled, and you don’t have to put on your glasses to use it.

9 comments:

Courtney | La Fille Américaine said...

Love this. So true! Don't forget about Direct Matin and Direct Soir... my personal favorites!

I never buy Le Monde because, well, why pay for news when you can get it for free... there's even articles from Le Monde in the free newspapers!

Anonymous said...

Actually having lived in France for over 18 years I just buy Le Parisian newspaper - sneered at by a lot of people but the reality is that you learn a lot more of what is actually happening in the Paris region than anywhere else -especially the worrying number of women murdered by partners or former partners..

Margie Rynn said...

I have to admit, Le Parisien is a good bet. I'll also admit that I read the New York Daily News in NYC when I wasn't up for the New York Times...

Marilyn Z.Tomlins said...

Le Monde is always dated with the next day's date.

As for Parisian it is the most popular daily in Paris (highest circulation).

France-Soir is good too for faits divers and has some interesting double spread articles.

All the papers can though be read on the web - for free.

oliviadog said...

I live in Paris, but since I don't read French that well (all that new vocab!), I mainly enjoy the pictures and the headlines.

Still, your post is hilarious. It also makes me feel less inadequate as a member of society who does not read the local newspaper. Back 'home', I subscribed and read the paper every morning. I miss that. But like you I get my news from the internet.

I wrote a post highlighting the sad state of television news (and other rants) if you want to check it out.

http://transitionkitchen.blogspot.com/2011/05/dsk-infidelity-censorship-feminism-news.html

Margie Rynn said...

Wait - there's more! The TV guide supplement in Le Monde, which comes out on Saturday, has listing for TV shows starting on Monday. So for two days, you are lost, unless you kept your guide from the previous week.

Franc Le Darling said...

I just read the Daily Mail in a French accent to avoid all the hassle

Hattie Reed said...

Brilliant! This is so true and it is so frustrating! I have resorted to just using the internet sites, free and (generally speaking) up to date!

Margie Rynn said...

You've got a point there, the newspapers' Internet sites are more up to date than the paper itself...which means that there is a bit of jet lag chez Le Monde...