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Major French newspaper drops opinion polls ahead of 2017 elections

Stéphane de Sakutin / AFP | Stéphane Albouy is editor in chief of the Le Parisien and Aujourd'hui en France titles.

The editor of one of France’s most popular newspapers has said he will stop commissioning opinion polls ahead of next year’s presidential election, citing pollsters’ failure to predict Brexit or November’s US election.

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Stéphane Albouy, who heads Le Parisien and its sister title Aujourd’hui en France (which are by and large identical, although Le Parisien provides local Paris news), said he wanted his journalists to focus on “on the ground reporting” instead of relying on surveys.

“We have been thinking about it for some time now, especially since Brexit and the election of Donald Trump,” he told AFP.

“It is not a question of defying the pollsters so much as experimenting with a different way of working ahead of the elections,” he said, adding that he would not forbid reporters commenting on polls commissioned by other titles.

“But we want to avoid giving the sort of commentary that accompanies a horse race, always focusing on who is in the lead,” he added. "We want to concentrate, in depth, on the candidates and their manifestos.”

Le Parisien and Aujourd’hui en France spend tens of thousands of euros a year on commissioning opinion polls, but Albouy insisted his new policy had nothing to do with cutting costs.

“The media has come under a lot of criticism for being cut off from reality,” he said. “So we are going to prioritise actual reporting. It will cost more than commissioning polls, and it will make us work harder.”

Le Parisien and Aujourd’hui en France sell 341,000 copies each day.

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