Who Demands Garbage?

patisserie Sud-Tunisien
North African fast-food café in the Latin Quarter.

Everyone Blamed for Scandal Except Publishers of It

by Ric Erickson

Issue 2.36:- Metropole Paris - Monday, 8. September 1997:- During the past week France's scandal-press was invited to explain itself on TV. Editors of photo-agencies and the editors of the 'rainbow' press were heard to say they do what they do because 'readers demand it.'

Last week I accepted that this is a 'chicken and egg' question and answer routine; you can't say which comes first. Since then, with a little additional thought I have decided everybody has a right to know the correct answer.

Readers do not write to newspaper and magazine editors to demand 'scandal' stories. The French editors repeated that their three million weekly sales proved otherwise, but this is dubious logic.

It is the publications' editors who decide what they are to publish; and the photo-agencies merely provide some of the illustrated material. Some 'enterprising' photographers propose photos or photo-features on their own, but mainly, the commands come from the editors.

If the editors did not provide these stories, there would be no demand for them from readers.

If this was the case, the editors would be out of jobs and the publications would not exist - and the, somewhat fewer, photographers would probably be getting the recognition they deserve for the risks they run by covering other world events, suchflame statue at Alma as famines, plagues, mayhem and wars. These other photographers in fact exist, but their photos are not highly rewarded.

France's 'scandal-press' publication of three million weekly needs to be put into perspective too. The population of France is roughly the same as Great Britain's, but France's production of this type of press amounts to nearly nothing in comparison.

Above the tunnel at the place de l'Alma in Paris.

Before coming to France, I worked for a paper which went in for this type of story - in a somewhat more minor way - and it had daily sales of 5.5 million and 2.5 million on Sundays. For a time it was number one in Europe, but has since toned-down and dropped in circulation. The British 'tabloid' press easily equals the above numbers today. Both as individual titles and collectively, it surpasses them by many millions.

In modern times one of the first papers of this type, was the USA's 'Confidential.' It was on newspaper stands everywhere and everybody talked about it. The paper itself was the scandal, but you could find few to admit reading it in person.

There is no doubt people do read the 'rainbow' press. In Spain recently, I bought '¡Hola!' as I usually do. However, King Juan Carlos was on Mallorca as usual and the Eurotrash were in Marbella as usual, just as in past summers. For reasons I know not, I didn't bother to buy the following weekly issues.

Even though it is perfectly clear that nobody has to read the 'scandal-press,' blaming readers for its existence is a really cheap shot by those who produce nothing of value in this world other than invasion of privacy - and make a lot of money doing it.

In France, with the strict privacy laws, some personalities who do not see invasion of their privacy as a form of self-promotion, have successfully sued and won judgements for large sums. Some editors consider this merely a cost of doing business - but if the judgement has been high enough to hurt, the targeted persons have been largely left alone afterwards.

There seems to have been no takers for the 'stolen' photos of Princess Diana, shot at the scene of the car wreck. The reported price of one to two million was probably not too high, but this time the moral price was.

Everybody has ordered a lot of extra paper for the funeral coverage press-run though.

Starting this week right here: the new Paris season.

If you have ever been in Paris and visited the official Paris Tourist Office on the Champs-Elysées, you poster: Guide to the Rentree will know that a monthly program called 'Paris Selection' is available without charge. I use this magazine for occasionally putting in a few coming events at the end of this column, and I use it for passing on the PTO fax number to readers who want to make reservations for various events in advance.

Last Wednesday I discovered that the August issue of 'Paris Selection' appears to be the last one for this year. Publication of this handy guide is to resume in January.

For the rest of the year I will be using other sources - but I cannot be 100 percent certain of their reliability. In fact, if there have been mistakes in past 'Coming Events' items, I would like to know about them, if you can take the time to write.

In the meantime, the PTO's fax number is 33-1 49 52 53 00. Several readers have reported that they have successfully made reservations by using it.

Since I do not feel like putting Paris' entire coming program here every week, you'll have to write to me if you have specific wishes for specific dates. I'll respond with what I have, but will not know how reliable the information may be.

A Few EventsCultural Posters

'Esprit de Suite: Six Graphistes, Six Lieux de Culture' is an exhibition of 120 posters created since 1990 by six studios, commissioned by six different cultural establishments in Paris and elsewhere in France.

To be seen at the Bibliothèque Nationale's Galerie Colbert, 2. rue Vivienne - 6. rue des Petits-Champs, Paris 2. Excepting Sundays, every day from 12:00 to 18:00; from Friday, 10. September until Saturday, 8. November. No entry charge. Catalogue, 30 francs. Info tel.: 01 47 03 81 10.

Photography - Fashion and Advertising

Beginning in the '50's and working closely with Kodak labs, Claude Ferrand has been pushing colors to extreme effects - in the service of clients such as Chanel, Mercedes, Air France, Guerlain, Kenzo and Dior. The images are famous even if the photographer himself is not. 50 prints of the photographer's creations are on view - in the same location at the same time as the posters mentioned above. The 150 pages catalogue is 150 francs, with 89 illustrations in color.


The monumental sculptures of Mark di Suvero go on display at various sites around Paris a week from today - starting next Monday, 15. September and they will remain on view until 16. November.

The sites are: Esplanade des Invalides, the Bibliothèque Nationale at Tolbiac, at the Lion Fountain at the Parc de la Villette, on the place Saint-Germain-des-Prés, at the Place Fontenoy in front of UNESCO and at Canal+ on the quai André Citroën.

23rd Festival of American Films at Deauville

Making movies is sort of a gamble so it is not strange for American producers to roll out their new offerings at this annual film festival, which began on Friday and runs through to Sunday, 14. September. If the audiences like the films, the producers can spend their joy in the casino.

I do not know if the general public can buy tickets to see the European premieres of these 30-odd new films, but TV viewers will certainly see clips from them during the coming week. The well-known French actress, Sophie Marceau is president of the international jury.

Metropole One Year Ago

Issue 1.29 - 9. September 1996 featured the count-down eiffel columns - Metropole Diary's 'Like a Tourist Brochure' and 'Au Bistro' had - 'Taxes and Danger for Rabbits.' The articles in the issue were 'Japanese Lessons in Paris' by Makiko Suzuki and 'Back to School in France - Chaos for 12.4 Million.' There were two 'Posters of the Week' and Ric's Cartoon of the Week rounded off the issue.

The Tour Eiffel Countdown to 2000:
Only 844 days left to go.

Regards, Ric
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contents to: Ric Erickson, Editor.
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