The political story currently rocking the French political establishment was broken by a media start-up.
Information revealed by news website Mediapart has led to claims that the election campaign which propelled President Nicolas Sarkozy to victory was part-funded by illegal donations from France’s richest woman, heiress to the L’Oreal empire Liliane Bettencourt.
Mediapart, which models itself on the US investigative news site ProPublica, took a public interest angle on ‘L’affaire Bettencourt’. The site, started in 2007 by a former Le Monde executive, uses a paid-content model which, its staff admit, intitially attracted derision.
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