The newly reinvented French daily, France-Soir, is encountering difficulties in its attempt to reestablish itself amongst the French public, according to the New York Times. Using a "mass-market reach" the paper is attempting to "change how the French think about newspapers" with flashy headlines which the NYT's Eric Pfanner has likened to those found in tabloids.
Popular during the post-war decades, the media crisis left the daily paper suffering until just recently. The daily received its second wind after Alexander Pugachev, the 25-year-old sun of Russian billionaire Sergei Pugachev, purchased it earlier this month. The acquisition of France-Soir has lead commentators to draw comparisons between Alexander Lebedev, who recently acquired The Independent in England and already own's London's Evening Standard. During a time of economic turmoil for the media, these purchases have lead some onlookers to question the motives behind the sudden interest Russian billionaires have taken in the foreign press.
Restoring France-Soir to its former glory will be a difficult task. In a country accustomed to seemingly outlandish political scandals, Pfanner notes that Mr. Pugachev strategy of using flashy headlines to attract readers might prove unsuccessful, stating, "In Paris...newspaper headlines rarely make anyone's jaws drop."
Nonetheless, France-Soir's goal is to raise circulation from 20,000 to more than 100,000 readers. To achieve this goal, Pugachev launched a €20 million add campaign promoting France-Soir. Yet the paper faces tough competition from well-established publications such as Le Figaro and Le Monde in addition to the free daily papers covering the same news that France-Soir hopes readers will pay for.
Other challenges include finding advertisers and breaking into the "tightly controlled" and union dominated news distribution service, Presstalis. These problems and more have hindered previous attempts to establish publications with similar objectives in France.
France-Soir has certainly not helped itself gain a wide following. Pfanner points out that within the third day of publication, the newspaper tried to orchestrate a "jaw-dropping scoop" by featuring a four-year-old image of the French rock start, Johnny Hallyday, at the beach when he had recently undergone intensive surgery. The long-term effect on France-Soir's creditably remains unknown but similar attempts to gain attention may well make it harder for the publication to gain the success it seeks.
Source: New York Times