Never let it be said that the French lag behind when it comes to technological advances. The Times reports today that instead of turning wholeheartedly to the internet as a way of saving the dwindling popularity of newspapers in Paris, French papers are attempt to halt sales decline with teams of old-fashioned noisy street vendors.
Les vendeurs de journaux a la criée — literally, shouting newspaper salesmen such as the one in this painting by Ilya Repin, painted in 1873 and found here — were a group of 19th-century figures who all but disappeared in the 20th century as dailies opted for newsagents and postal delivery.
The Times reports 20 began operating again this month on a trial basis at eleven stations in Paris, working on commission only, where they yell at passers-by in an attempt to vaunt the merits of Le Figaro, Le Monde and Libération.
“It’s a bit of a paradox that in the day of the internet, newspapers are using such ancient methods,” 47-year-old vendor Louis told the paper. It isn’t yet turning the tide of people now reading their newspapers online rather than in print, butt he Union of the National Daily Press is confident that the vendors can tap into the 4.5 million passengers who use the Métro every day, and bring about an increase in revenue.
“I have to admit that it’s not exactly going brilliantly for now,” Louis says, who has to sell some 100 newspapers a day to make it worth the effort. “The French are very distrustful by nature and they don’t like people invading their privacy.”
Perhaps DC Thomson should try selling The Dandy the same way?