Five ways to make a tabloid out of France Soir (à la 'The Sun')

Article published on Sept. 7, 2010
Article published on Sept. 7, 2010
In 2009, British photographer Jason Fraser, inspired by The Sun, helped revitalise a 'grand old lady (which) has been allowed to slide'. Add a 25-year-old Russian owner with business model aspirations of turning substance into trash and a fired editor, and one of France's national instutions has a problem

Dear Rémy Dessarts,

I've learned that since taking over from Christian de Villeneuve as editor-in-chief of French daily newspaper France Soir ('France Evening') in August 2010, you would like to turn a historically significant title of the French press – a paper born out of the French resistance - into a sensationalist tabloid. Of course your rich Russian boss Alexandre Pugachev has told your journalists the complete opposite.

But you and I know the score, because you're disappointed after you failed to create a 'Bild à la française' (Bild is Germany's version of The Sun) in 2007, instigated by the Springer group. So yes, it's easy for some to say that you need a really low price, multiple sale points and attractive content to launch a big populist tabloid in France, and that these three conditions will never be met here.

But you've kept quiet. Patiently bided your time. And it seems that the time has come because you really believe in it. You even admitted it to France Soir's editorial advisor Gilles de Prévaux, who decided he'd rather jump ship: 'You know, Gilles, we can sell rubbish disguised in gold robes...' Bingo!

A tabloid in France, in your dreams!

Well everyone's already shocked. A tabloid in France, in your dreams! we hear. But you, you know very well that Bild sells more than 3 million copies a day and that The Sun, which has been owned by Rupert Murdoch (a shining example of a media magnate) since 1969, has a readership of 3 million in the UK. From the French desk at, we completely understand your desire to succeed after the failure of 2007, so we thought a little helping hand wouldn't do you any harm. So here's a few tricks of the trade.

Scandal, sex, rumours...

1. Blood (sweat) and tears

With a bit of luck, you'll get a repeat performance in France of what happened in Duisburg in Germany. When the German festival Love Parade ended in human tragedy, the Bild had a hunch: publish photos of the young dead bodies, that'll sell! And, just in case, remember not to neglect your sensationalist captions: 'His hand convulsing, this man was also crushed during the panic,' 'the body of a young raver was found in the rubbish'...

2) Pack of lies

But I'm getting carried away. Perhaps I should start with the basics. Every day at France Soir, you should publish poorly verified infomation, misquotations and exagerated statistics. The Bild's method is infallible. On page 2, the 'Korrekturspalte' provides space to correct any errors from the last edition. Ideal for getting away with any mistakes for 24 hours. Also ideal for avoiding any repurcussions if other journalists repeat your errors. French television host Flavie Flament, who left one TV channel (TF1) for another (RTL), who 'condemened' France Soir in Le Journal du Dimanche (JDD), a popular Sunday paper. 'I didn't call France Soir back because they twist the things you say. I'd probably write a little note to the young woman who I had on the phone yesterday, who was kind of charming towards the end.'

3) 'Tits-and-bum'

Fairly self-explanatory, and as dubbed by the former political editor of The Sun Trevor Kavanagh and The Guardian ('a template for bum-and-tit tabloidism'). So, let's continue. On page three, next to yesterday's corrections, you need (beautiful) topless girls. With a few nice pairs of..., tthe media will rank your art at the same level as The Sun soon. Classy

Where it should belong?

4) Nauseating celebrities

Once you've secured your dodgy photos, and your photos of bums, add some celebrities, of course. For example, The Sun is famous for coining the early nineties Camillagate; the dilemma of publishing transcripts where Prince Charles whispers to his current wife and then-mistress how he was dying to remove her tampon with his teeth. Big deal. France's raciest recordings of the moment are conversations between L'oreal heiress Liliane Bettencourt and her butler Patrick de Maistre you may as well screw them up and chuck them in the bin. A conversation between Benjamin Biolay and Carla Bruni (the French singer with whom the current French first lady was rumoured to have had an extra-marital affair with) would be much more favourable. If after all that the most famous politicians aren't biting your hand off to be interviewed in France Soir - like Angela Merkel did with the Bild, to be sure to reach an audience of 3 million - you could always tweet with the master/chief, @Rupert Murdoch.

5) Court cases

Ah yes, I nearly forgot. This one's an absolute classic. Get caught up in legal proceedings. Bild is a great connoisseur. Outing Max Moseley's 'nazi' orgie was a must that was worth paying out £510, 000. And if an undercover journalist ever infiltrates your paper to do their job, like Günther Walraff did to the Bild Zeitung...Well stick him in the dock! Celebrity+legal scandal is an explosive combination on Google.

Images: main (cc)Plinkk; The Sun (cc) ©vapour trail; (cc)NiceBastard/ all courtesy of Flickr