For years the French have been living in ignorance about the sleazy lives of their politicians due to an unwritten agreement by the press. This means that while lecturing the French about the morals of family life, French politicians could bonk anything with a pulse. Now it seems that the Internet is fast proving the downfall of government sleaze.
Already Mediapart has bought down two ministers leaving national newspapers playing catch-up and other politicians scared witless. Mediapart does not seem to have any political affiliations and has bought down socialists and conservatives. Its latest scoop proved that the bloke in charge of public finances had an undeclared Swiss bank account until mid-March.
Mediapart was founded by Edwy Plenel, a longtime investigative reporter in 2008. He told Reuters that the shake-up of French media had been long overdue in a political establishment used to newspapers turning a blind eye to peccadillos. What has kept the established press in place is that it took a lot of money to set up a rival to the system. However now that the internet there, and people reading news on it, it was possible to establish an alternative. In fact traditional print media has actually played a role as sceptics to Mediapart reports.
However as politicians start to admit that the stories are true, the print media is starting to look extremely dodgy. Mediapart has 30 reporters working in a back street in Paris. The online outfit is turning a profit from its 65,000 online subscriptions while newspapers struggle with falling readership. It broke even in 2010 and posted a 700,000 euro profit in 2012 on turnover of six million. Plenel said 1,000 people were signing up each day since the Cahuzac story.