At Le Monde, journalists win a battle for editorial independence

In recent months, a shareholder battle has roiled Le Monde, which is effectively France’s paper of record. In October 2018, staff and readers, representatives of whom own 25 percent of its parent company, lashed out after one of Le Monde’s shareholders furtively sold a chunk of his stake to a controversial tycoon from the Czech Republic. The paper’s editorial independence, staff said, was under threat. Recently, with tensions running high, hundreds of Le Monde journalists took an extraordinary step, demanding—in a column published by the paper—that their owners accede to their demands, or else face the consequences. Le Monde’s journalists have always had a big say in how they are managed. They held a controlling stake in the paper from its founding—in 1944, at the urging of the freedom fighter and future French president Charles de Gaulle—until 2010 when, facing dire financial straits, they ceded control. A trio of businessmen bought in: Xavier Niel, the founder of French telecoms company Free; Matthieu Pigasse, an investment banker; and Pierre Bergé, the former business partner of Yves Saint Laurent. The new shareholders sat in a delicate equilibrium, with none of them holding a majority of the parent company. To guarantee Le Monde’s editorial independence, a group representing journalists, staff, and readers retained a quarter-ownership stake, and a say in decisions going forward. When Bergé died, in 2017, Niel and Pigasse agreed to split his shares. The same year, the... Continue reading at 'Columbia Journalism Review'

[ Columbia Journalism Review | 2019-10-08 12:07:56 UTC ]
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