Greater Paris has a lively, informative and iconoclastic magazine: Megalopolis, part of what may be an international trend of highly localized quality journalism.
The subject of this magazine is the city of Paris, the whole metropolis, in all its facets. In the words of one of the founders: “We launched this magazine with the conviction that it was time to focus on the metropolis, that it was a terrain for investigation and reportage that was not being covered by any quality title.”
It is striking that this magazine is one of the few anywhere where real journalism happens anymore. They do not pick their subjects off the newswires or from TV, they do not make a living commenting what other people are saying and writing. They’re out in the field, exploring things that we don’t hear about all day already, like the rise of evangelical protestantism in Seine-Saint-Denis, the contemporary art scene in Gentilly or what daily life is like if you’re an undocumented immigrant in Paris.
The project was created by a group of young journalists, and you can sense the energy. The writing is refreshing, irreverent, and full of verve. The choice of subjects is wide-ranging and often unexpected.
The last issue contained a 24-page report on “Paris in 20 Years”. The report began with a folksy summary of what “Le Grand Paris” means for ordinary Parisians: what changes to expect in the public transportation, what assumptions are being made about demographics, labor and immigration, what real estate prices might do in different parts of the metropolitan region, and so on. It ends with more specific pieces, for example an article on an interesting new “shopping neighborhood” – in other words an ecological and social anti-mall – in Aubervilliers names Le Millénaire. Overall, it is a great piece on how the metropolis of the future is being shaped, easy to make sense of by the common person.
Megalopolis is the kind of magazine that every major city should have. It is a proof that there is, very definitely, a pulse in Paris, and that the city of the future is one that will intrigue and captivate us. And it most certainly does not stop at the narrow city limits of today’s Paris municipality.
The magazine has existed since March 2010, but was on hiatus for a while over the summer as they looked for funding. They finally found support from a group including Xavier Niel, a telecommunications entrepreneur, and they are back in the newsstands. It’s unclear how long something like this, that does not spend its time pandering to commercial interests, will survive. But as long as it does, let’s enjoy.