French pocket-sized daily launches with a scoop

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The Independent Online
INFOMATIN, a new French daily using colour, extensive graphics and a mini-format for easy reading on public transport, appeared for the first time yesterday. The 24-page newspaper, launched by the staid evening Le Monde, is the antithesis of its strictly black-and-white, photoless founder. Priced at three francs (34p), half the cost of its main rivals Le Figaro and Liberation, it goes in for short, snappy stories, unlike Le Monde, which is known for its lengthy analyses.

A cut-and-paste job that uses Paris-written stories rather than reporters in the field, its fresh, bright layout was untroubled by tiresome advertisements in the first issue, which had just four - only one of them full-page. Its main innovation was a 23.5cm x 32cm format that folds easily to fit in a jacket pocket.

InfoMatin marked its debut with a scoop: the discreet release from jail last month of Yves Chalier, who was implicated in one of the 1980s corruption scandals affecting the Socialist government then.

Unlike its rivals, InfoMatin devoted little space to an interview on defence problems that President Francois Mitterrand gave to Agence France-Presse, allowing him only one 36-word sentence. A leisure page carried a wine column advising readers to buy Henri Marionnet's Gamay de Touraine red, hardly a revelation, since only an oenological illiterate in France would not know that Mr Marionnet is one of the Loire's most respected wine-producers.

Le Monde's intention is to capture young, suburban professionals who travel into Paris every day and who find the evening paper too heavy.

The paper, following the publication last week of Aujourd'hui, a national edition of the popular Le Parisien Libere, appeared at a time of intense problems for the French daily press. Le Jour, another daily launched last year with the boast that it could survive with sales of 20,000, folded a few weeks ago.