Enough with the free newspapers, President Sarkozy

As I recall, Joe Strummer of The Clash wrote his own manifesto for the NME in the run up to the 1979 general election.

Strummer promised that H.M. Government would buy every youth in the country an electric guitar on their 16th birthday.

If you ask me, this still sounds like a sensible idea. It’s certainly a damn sight more sensible than President Sarkozy’s plan to buy every 18-year-old in France a year’s subscription to their favourite newspaper.

This is one of several measures made possible by emergency state aid of â‚¬600m for the newspaper industry. The cash will be doled out over three years.

The French state already supports the nation’s newspapers to the tune of â‚¬1.5bn annually. This accounts for around 10% of an average newpaper’s turnover.

Laurent Joffrin, editor of Libération, says:  “It is bizarre, but this is France.”

Actually, it’s more than bizarre. At the Guardian, Angelique Chrisafis nails the problem good and proper.

The public’s trust in the media is at an all-time low in a climate where politicians rewrite their own interviews for publication and the president’s powerful business friends, from construction to arms manufacturing, own several major papers or TV stations.

Do you see a teeny-weeny difficulty here? Do you notice a convenient peg on which a cynic might hang his hat? I do.

Oddly, President Sarkozy doesn’t. In fact, he says he can’t understand ‘how anyone could doubt the legitimacy of the state in this process”.

There are days when I regret not being French. This isn’t one of them.

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