Minute (French newspaper)

Minute (French newspaper)

Minute is a weekly newspaper, initially right-wing but now extreme-right, circulated in France since 1962. Its editorial position is satirical and conservative. According to figures announced by the paper's leadership, it had a circulation of 40,000 copies each week in 2006.



Right-wing period

In 1962, Minute was created by Jean-François Devay, former director of L'Aurore. In its first years, Minute included a large number of articles devoted to show-biz and humorous cartoons. The paper's politics rapidly hardened particularly following the end of the Algerian war; it became less devoted to show-biz news, and turned into a political newspaper regarded as right-wing but supporting no particular party.

During its grande époque until 1981, Minute sold 250,000 issues per week. The editorship was invited every Sunday to participate in Club de la presse, a political show broadcast on television and radio. The tone was critical of Charles de Gaulle, and the paper had many readers among those disaffected by the Algerian war. The editorials of François Brigneau, who had joined the paper in 1963, were noted for their biting anti-Gaullist prose. In 1965 the paper contributed to the revelation of the Ben Barka affair.

The list of shareholder-benefactors of the paper included such names as Fernand Raynaud, Françoise Sagan, Juliette Gréco (despite being left-wing)[citation needed], Eddie Barclay and Marcel Dassault.

Devay died of cancer in 1971. He was replaced as head of publication by Jean Boizeau. Brigneau took on the chief editorship for a time but the extreme political tone which he infused into the paper led to his replacement, and he returned to his duties as star editor. In the 1970s the paper adopted an extreme-right editorial line.


In the second half of the 1970s, Minute adopted a hard-right line marked by its support for the Front National (the French National Front party), to whom they devoted many articles, and who ultimately head-hunted their information officer. At the very beginning of the 1980s, sales of the paper started to fall off.

Minute stood out for its highly critical tone with respect to the political classes, and was particularly anti-communist. The paper contributed in bringing the charges against Georges Marchais by the l'Express weekly, by whom he was criticised as having volunteered to work in Germany during the Second World War, and against Georges Guingouin, former leader of the wartime Maquis du Limousin. Serge de Beketch, formerly head of information, became chief editor in 1979 before leaving the paper in 1986 when Jean-Marie Le Pen chose him to lead National-Hebdo. Among other famous Minute journalists was Patrick Buisson, historian of the Organisation de l'armée secrète and, 30 years later, adviser to Nicolas Sarkozy.

Over 1987 and 1988 there was an editorial split between Minute and Le Chardon. Le Chardon would only last a few months before the editorial team reformed under the name Minute-Le Chardon. In 1990, Serge Martinez, a Front National deputy at the time who would ultimately be the second-in-command of Bruno Mégret and one of his chief financiers, bought Minute. He transformed the look and the news. The title became La France, with Minute only appearing as a subtitle, or surtitle depending on the issue. As of October 2009 the paper is known as Minute-La France.

In 1993 Gérald Penciolelli bought Minute with the intention of turning it back into its original form and abandoning the "news" type presentation. Its form factor was also changed to match that of Le Canard enchaîné with the tail slogan "Not all ducks (canards) are on the left".

In February 1999, Nicolas Miquet attempted unsuccessfully to purchase Minute, which had come into financial difficulty. In April Penciolelli's editorial team was disbanded. In the issue dated March 1999, the leadership appealed to its most faithful readers to save the paper. Publication stopped for a few months, during which Miquet launched the paper L'Hebdo, subtitled Le Nouveau Minute. The editorial team, in conflict with Penciolelli, announced its intention to buy back the paper and in the interim published the pastiche Un Faux Minute (a false Minute), denouncing the actions of both Penciolelli and Miquet. In December, the paper was bought back by Catherine Barnay, who was close to Penciolelli. In January 2002, it was bought by Jean-Marie Molitor, still making use of the title.

During the French presidential election, 2002 Minute predicted, along with some of politically like-minded newspapers such as the daily Présent, the weeklies Rivarol and National-Hebdo, and the 10-day frequency Le Libre Journal, the probability that prime minister Lionel Jospin would be eliminated in the first round of voting, and that Jean-Marie Le Pen might qualify for the second round. The weekly satirical magazine Le Canard enchaîné had also envisaged this possibility.

Current political position

Today, Minute is a newspaper close to the extreme-right which styles itself as uniting the monarchist and nationalist right.

Since Minute is not affiliated with a powerful press conglomerate, it is highly dependent on sales revenues. Little by little, Minute has disappeared from certain retail outlets where it had no more than one or two buyers. According to the newspaper, this amounts to a boycott of papers with weak following. Minute asserts that other newspapers borrow from it without proper reference, citing the affair of Mitterrand's daughter (see below).

Minute has been regularly convicted of defamation, which has led to its inclusion in French Trivial Pursuit as the answer to "Which newspaper can boast the highest number of court proceedings?

In 1999, the paper refused to take sides in the schism of the Front National between the supporters of Bruno Mégret and Jean-Marie Le Pen. In an editorial published in July 2006 Jean-Marie Molitor made a call for unity between partisans of Jean-Marie Le Pen, Philippe de Villiers. Minute has also repeatedly called for the right wing of the UMP to join the coalition.

During the Kosovo war, Minute supported the Serb regime and its leader Slobodan Milošević. The first page of the issue circulated on 31 March 1999 was entitled "The Serbs are protecting us against Islamist invasion. Today, Kosovo, tomorrow, France".

Before the 2002 French presidential elections, Minute published more than 50 conversations with elected members of the RPR, the UDF and the Front National, and organised debates between right-wing and Front National personalities. This led to polemics by certain left-wing personalities, including Julien Dray, protesting at the significant number of deputies from the UMP who had agreed to interviews with Minute.

For the 2006 FIFA World Cup, Minute headlined with "Are there too many blacks in the French team?". The issue released before the world cup final led "Bye-bye hooligan" with a photo of Zinedine Zidane, who had been sent off the field after head-butting an Italian player who had insulted him. The article which followed compared Zidane to a hooligan from the banlieue, the rough suburbs.

Main editors

These people have written or illustrated for Minute. This list does not contain information about which of the paper's two main eras each person was active in.

  • Gérard Angèle ;
  • François Brigneau ;
  • Henri Gault and Christian Millau (founders of the Gault & Millau guide) ;
  • Jean-Pax Méfret 1969-1974 ;
  • Philippe Couderc ;
  • Patrick Buisson ;
  • Michel Lancelot ;
  • Jean Montaldo 1964-1972 ;
  • Éric Asudam (Michel-Georges Micberth) ;
  • Alain Fournier, alias Alain Camille or ADG
  • Jean-Yves Le Gallou ;
  • Serge de Beketch ;
  • Jean Bourdier ;
  • Roland Gaucher ;
  • Jacques Tillier ;
  • Jean-Pierre Cohen ;
  • René Le Honzec ;
  • Jean Mabire ;
  • Philippe Colombani ;
  • Father Guillaume de Tanoüarn ;
  • Pierre Marie Gallois ;
  • Vladimir Volkoff ;
  • Pinatel ;
  • Konk ;
  • Bruno Larebière ;
  • Jean-Marie Molitor ;
  • Jérôme Rivière ;
  • Alain Suguenot ;
  • Yannick Urrien
  • Paule Drouault


  • Pierre Desproges wrote : "Do you read Minute? No? You should, it's interesting. Instead of soiling yourself by reading all of Sartre, buy an issue of Minute.. for fewer than ten francs you'll have Nausea and Dirty Hands at once!".
  • It is frequently alleged[who?] that Paris-Match first revealed the existence of François Mitterrand's daughter Mazarine Pingeot. In fact it was Minute, some five years earlier. No other newspaper took up the story although most journalists knew that the information was accurate.

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