Anatomy of a failed French clone p. 11

By: Marichka Melnyk Paris 24:00 tried to imitate Infomatin but it folded in only three weeks sp.

EVERY DAY, THOUSANDS of Parisian subway commuters stride by orange and black posters that announce the arrival of a new daily paper that looks a lot like Infomatin.
The posters are all that remain of Paris 24:00, an upstart daily that tried to copy the Infomatin formula but ended up folding within three weeks.
Like its rival, Paris 24:00 was a 24-page, magazine-sized daily that featured short stories and color throughout. It even cost the same as Infomatin, 3 francs (about 55?) an issue.
Despite these similarities, the paper's editor in chief, Philippe Lecardonnel, denied that the two papers were completely alike.
Infomatin is "national, exhaustive, neutral, with small photos," he said. In contrast, Paris 24:00 was "Parisian, selective, and involved, with big photos."
The difference was to be in the tone and content of the paper, which Lecardonnel promised would be "editorial and impertinent."
The main investor was Michel Sendra of Midratel, a French telephone-service company, who had already lost an estimated 3 million francs (more than half a million dollars) on Le Jour, a paper that started and failed last year. Sendra promised Paris 24:00 up to 10 million francs ($1.8 million) and six weeks to prove itself. By the end of June it was to have built up a regular readership of at least 30,000.
Lecardonnel wanted to launch Paris 24:00 with 150,000 copies for sale the first day but could only afford 30,000. Under the circumstances, Lecardonnel feels the paper did well.
"Without decent publicity, we sold an average of 12,000 copies a day, more than half of what Infomatin sold in Paris [at that time] with its much larger advertising budget," he said.
But at the end of May, Sendra pulled out, telling Le Monde that Paris 24:00 might be viable, "but would have to lose 1 to 1.5 million francs a month ($180,000 to $273,000) before it broke even."
Forty-two employees, including 26 journalists, lost their jobs and in mid-June had yet to be paid.
Lecardonnel thinks Paris 24:00 did not have enough time to prepare ? only 2 1/2 months.
"Honestly, I think it could have worked if we'd had the time," he said. "But it takes at least a year for a paper to establish its credibility."
?( Melnyk is a Toronto journalist participating in the Paris Reporting Project) [Caption]


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