I am in France for three weeks and it is very different here.
The local weekly (paid-for) paper has gone through traumas over the past few years. Resolutely off-line, it’s tried every possible way of re-configuring its local offices to offer, first, a single paper for the whole region; then, a complex web of micro-papers which were flops because they were too micro; then a micro with a macro fold-in; and now, back to a single paper for the whole region.
The problem they had with the micro-papers was that there just isn’t enough news. No, really.
It’s even a bit of a problem with the single, regional edition.
Top headline this week? A picture lead on “the dead wife of the Lord of Crequy, who died in the war (crusades, that is), Dame Brunhilde haunts the chateau by night (that’s a pun, incidentally, on a dramatic production coming up at Fressin castle called ‘Nuits de Chateau”) whenever danger menaces the fortress.”
Inside. Barn fires – one of them deliberate. Car crashes – no-one hurt. One obituary.
And this, under the headline “Dog beaten up”:
“After passers-by raised the alarm, a 22 year old man was arrested on Saturday morning for beating up his dog and throwing it from the four-metre high sea wall. The dog – an American Staffordshire - did not seem to have been injured.
The man is being charged with cruelty and also for failing to muzzle the dog – the dog was not wearing a muzzle even though it is considered as belonging to a dangerous breed, category two.”
It’s about as bad as it gets in the summer. In the winter, he might have shot it.
Elsewise, all the news is good. A couple who have welcomed a child from Darfur into their home gets an inside page to itself. Painters and artists are inspired by or hang their work in trees. Artois medievality is celebrated on all sides, Victor Hugo here and there.
There are births marriages and deaths; theatrical and musical productions where the audience rather than the performers is the picture feature.
Mayors, departmental, regional and national government are invisible; the CRS a welcome buffer between the seaside town rowdies (many of them British stag and hen parties) and ‘us’; the courts seem never to over or under sentence.
And in spite of the pictographic weather forecast predicting brilliant sunshine, the sun has not returned and it is raining, raining, raining.