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Ministers swap desks to man the newsroom scoops

Paris (Reuter) - The French financial daily Les Echos ditched its usual staff for yesterday's edition to take on a group of novice reporters, including cabinet ministers and the governor of the central bank.

Instead of making the headlines, prominent French personalities wrote them to mark the 50th anniversary of the founding of the elite Ecole Nationale d'Administration post-graduate school for civil servants.

Sixty-four ENA graduates took part. Yet, although well-informed, the new reporters seemed to come up with fewer scoops than a normal edition of Les Echos.

The Foreign Minister, Herve de Charette, wrote an article entitled "Exports represent a real mine for jobs," while the Justice Minister, Jacques Toubon, wrote about reforms to French subsidised housing.

One of the more thoughtful articles was a review by the Bank of France governor, Jean-Claude Trichet, of John Kenneth Galbraith's book A Journey through Economic Time. Mr Trichet praised him as "a master of the art of communication".

The leftist daily Liberation had a more irreverent tribute, publishing what it joked were questions at a typical ENA oral exam, where a self- confidence is as highly prized as knowledge.

To the question "What was South Korea's steel production in 1992?" it reckoned that a bluff from someone who did not know like "Yes, of course. Flat or rolled steel?" would win as many points as the right answer.