DUCK FACE: Le Canard Enchaîné (or ‘The Chained Duck’) is celebrating its 100th anniversary with a tome. “Le Canard Enchaîné, 100 ans,” uses miscellaneous stories and illustrations, and retraces the history of the French satirical newsweekly with a track record of scoops since it was founded during World War I by Maurice Maréchal and his wife Jeanne.
Despite the grim climate for print media in France, the centennial duck is in a good shape: Its circulation was up 0.7 percent in 2015, to 392,214 copies per week (including 75,530 subscription copies and 17,023 copies bought by airlines.)
Le Canard Enchaîné is an exception in the media landscape, having no advertising and a very minimal Web presence: Its web site consists of a homepage basically explaining why it has no web presence and its Twitter account is solely used on Tuesdays to tweet the stories’ headlines of the edition that hits newsstands the next day.
“Our web strategy will evolve when it’s needed. For the time being, we don’t need to have a web presence. Our print circulation is strong. There’s no need or emergency. We aren’t saying that we won’t [go to the web]. The main problem for us is that there are less and less newsstands in Paris and across France,” said Erik Emptaz, executive editor of Le Canard Enchaîné.
The price of the eight-page paper is set at 1.20 euros, or $1.33, and hasn’t changed since 1991. Le Canard Enchaîné, whose parent company is Les Editions Maréchal headquartered on Rue Saint Honoré, employs around 30 in-house journalists. The totality of the capital belongs to the staff.
This summer, the newspaper revealed French President François Hollande’s hairdresser earning a gross salary of 9,895 euros a month, or $10,902, which was renamed as the “Coiffeurgate.” (The affair continues: In “Un Président ne devrait pas dire ça,” a new book of Hollande’s frank comments written by two journalists that’s causing shockwaves in France.)
Do they plan to bring back the popular section “Le Journal de Carla B.?” — a fictitious diary of Carla Bruni-Sarkozy that the paper used to run weekly when she was first lady of France, in case Nicolas Sarkozy wins next year’s elections? “Why not, but Nicolas Sarkozy isn’t in a good position for now,” quipped Emptaz.
The run-up to presidential elections has traditionally been a good time for the paper that revealed a flurry of embarrassing affairs involving presidential candidates, including Alain Juppé and Sarkozy in the past. Candidates continue to give grist to its mill. When asked on a French radio station if he knew the price of a chocolate croissant, right-wing candidate Jean-François Copé said: “I have no idea but.…I think it must be around 10 or 15 centimes” while the cost is in fact roughly 10 times higher. The paper mocked it on last week’s page one, retracing the history of French politicians’ blunders when it comes to estimating the cost of daily life, starting with Marie-Antoinette.
“We investigate, we check the information,” Emptaz said. “No three ways about it. It’s very serious work that we do and we tell stories with a mocking and joyful voice. We have fun.”