Why does everyone hate the newspaper?

It’s March 15, 2002. A journalism student is in class. This is due to the arrival of a new free daily. The teacher who has arrived from Paris even has one in his hand … All in his passion, the student then splits up into a diatribe: free info? Oh! Where are we heading ? 20 years later, the student lost his hair and part of his passion, he heads the media department in 20 minutes and will write an article about the glorious creation of his newspaper. Karma …

In his defense, in 2002, everyone hates 20 minutes. Serge July, then head of Releasepod that information has a price and that 20 minutes is nothing but an advertising leaflet, a “fake” journalism … With it, the whole profession, or almost, at best worried, at worst furious about this new press model, free and in color. “Everyone in the media thinks so 20 minutes and freebies will kill the press by sucking in all the publicity, remembers Virginie Spies, a semiologist and media analyst. We are in a time when newspapers are suffering and sales have fallen. And this arrival sounds like the coup d’etat. »

and apocalypse

It’s not just the other media that hate 20 minutes. There are also book workers, the professions such as printing and distribution. “By proposing a new distribution model, 20 minutes has attracted hatred from this declining business, Sonia Devillers analyzes.

The media journalist from France Inter remembers 2002: “I was a journalist Figaro which at the time was housed in an emblematic building – the liner -, rue du Louvre, in the large historic district of the press, lost illusions. I see myself hanging out with the other journalists Figaro, for not being able to go out due to very violent demonstrations by book workers. There was a sea of ​​copies of 20 minutes thrown on the street, it was the apocalypse. It was very spectacular demonstrations and strikes, and it lasted several days … If 20 minutes caused such a hate movement, it is because when he arrived, the system was about to collapse. Everywhere in France all titles fall, the whole system on which the sale of the press was based knows that it is doomed. »


Fortunately, there are people who greet the arrival of 20 minutes. Readers first, with immediate success in “handling” the newspaper. But also … advertisers. These brands choose to buy advertising space in the newspaper and thus ensure its financial sustainability. “The arrival of 20 minutes seen by the advertising market as news that would rejuvenate a press readership that was very old, analyzes Gautier Picquet, president of Publicis Media. 20 minutes offered the opportunity to reach out to a different audience and created its readership. »

Here, too, the success was rapid and strong. ‘There has been a form of schizophrenia among brands. They thought people would throw the newspaper away, not to appreciate it, because it was free. But before they threw it away, they had to take it and read it because it was free … The city’s anchorage of 20 minutes attracted strong brands such as Nike and Adidas. It was news to the press. Very fast, to launch a blockbuster in the cinema, 20 minutes has become inevitable. »

A model

We summarize. At launch, 20 minutes appeals to readers who do not boast about it. And to the brands, which also hide it a bit. And evokes noisy hate reactions from the subject. 20 years later, everything has changed, or almost. ” 20 minutes participated in the renewal of the landscape, with a whole new format, analyzes Claire Blandin, media historian. In this format, there is a foreshadowing of the developments that have taken place since. Sonia Devillers has a similar analysis: “Over the last 20 years, we have reinvented so many things in the media … We discover the unlimited and in real time. 20 minutes accompanied it. »

On the list of these innovations, there are many things that seem quite banal to the reader of 2022. “Free is an obvious idea today,” explains Claire Blandin. It’s the model for websites and social networks that is the most common means of obtaining information. , the fact of writing very short articles, the place of the image … ”The researcher also notes that 20 minutes introduced “a more familiar tone, a hybridization between general information and personal information. Overall, there is a renewal of journalistic forms, a new tone.”

The good tone

It’s a recurring joke among us. The famous “tone 20 minutes is as well known and mysterious as a secret family recipe. “You approached information without taboo, being very close to your readers’ considerations,” says Virginie Spies. Your tone is to be accessible, understandable. Claire Blandin adds a generational analysis: “ 20 minutes has always had a young team that is naturally aware of societal change. There was a porosity with the language, the formulas and the themes of the present society. Your writing was a pioneer in some form of information writing, then instead of social networking in this writing … “

With the fact that information is free and then instantaneous, this is the second major innovation in the processing of information that 20 minutes accompanied. “The last 20 years have been the era of mass realization of information in real time. Everywhere, all the time, without really asking, we are being bombarded with information. 20 minutes found me at the metro exit, now he finds me on Facebook, ”states Virginie Spies.

Gautier Picquet sees in it the symptom of the great strength of 20 minuteshis creativity: “When a client asks you, he knows that anything is possible. 20 minutes has something that others do not have is its ability to think differently, adapt and always innovate. »


But is this really still the case today? ” 20 minutes blended into the mass media landscape and became one of its models, ”according to Claire Blandin. ” 20 minutes is part of a media ecosystem with more than 1000 titles, Gautier Picquet abounds. Today there is a reflex 20 minutes, a spontaneous notoriety achieved. The brand is strong … ”So much so that today we can ask ourselves: who still hates 20 minutes ? “The 24-hour news channels have been replaced 20 minutes from this point of view according to Gautier Picquet. “An analysis shared by Virginie Spies:” Today, when you want to hit the media, it is BFM TV and CNews that take over where it used to be free. »

20 minutes raised for the first time the questions: What is the information worth? And where does the media money come from? “, according to Sonia Devillers. A healthy question for Virginie Spies:” According to its history and its nature, 20 minutes has a duty to its readers, especially the youngest, to inform it fairly and educate it to criticize the information it receives. From an early age, media literacy has never been more crucial and urgent. »

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