France Soir (English: France Evening) was a French daily newspaper that prospered during the 1950s and 1960s, reaching a circulation of 1.5 million in the 1950s. It declined rapidly under various owners, and was re-launched as a populist tabloid in 2006. However, the last copy of France Soir was published on 13 December 2011, and the company went bankrupt on 23 July 2012.
France Soir was originally founded as the underground paper Défense de la France ("Defense of France") in November 1944 by Robert Salmon and Philippe Viannay, but it was renamed France Soir after World War II. The paper grew to be ranked among the country's (and the European continent's) most circulated, reaching 1.5 million in 1955, with Pierre Lazareff as chief editor. Early in the 21st century, circulation dropped below 90,000.
In February 2006, Jacques Lefranc, managing director of the news, was dismissed by then owner Raymond Lakah for re-printing the cartoon depictions of the Prophet Muhammad that were the subject of the "Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons controversy". The 12 cartoons were printed with the addition of another depicting other religious figures sitting on a cloud with the caption reading, "Don't worry Muhammad, we've all been caricatured here".
Acquisition by Jean-Pierre Brunois and Olivier Rey
In April 2006, the Tribunal of Commerce in Lille announced that the paper would become the property of Jean-Pierre Brunois, a real-estate developer, and Olivier Rey, a former journalist for the paper. The tribunal had been overseeing the bankruptcy and bids for take over since October 2005, at which point the circulation had dropped to around 50,000. The decision lead to strike by the staff who were displeased with Brunois' plan to cut costs by firing many, and increase circulation by turning the paper into a tabloid. The opposing bid, favored by the staff, was from Arkadi Gaydamak, the owner of The Moscow News, who had promised not to fire the staff. Due to the turbulence, France Soir was not published for a month and a half.
In 2009, France Soir was acquired by Alexander Pugachyov, son of Russian ex-billionaire Sergey Pugachyov. The paper was relaunched in 2010. But its last print issue appeared in December 2011,with the online version ending in July 2012 with the court-ordered bankruptcy of the company.
France Soir had many contributors, journalists and writers, among them Joseph Kessel, Lucien Bodard, Jean-Paul Sartre, Henri de Turenne, Henri Amouroux, Philippe Labro, Philippe Bouvard, Jacqueline Cartier, Max Gallo, Jean Dutourd, Jacques Sternberg and Jean-Pierre Thiollet.
- France Soir goes bankrupt. Roy Greenslade, The Guardian
- "France Soir" mis en liquidation. Xavier Ternisien, Le Monde
- "France-Soir". Encyclopædia Britannica Online.
- "French editor fired over cartoons". BBC. 2006-02-02.
- Burke, Jason (April 16, 2006). "Super soaraway Soir? Quelle horreur!". The Guardian. Retrieved 2008-08-20.
- Crampton, Thomas (April 14, 2006). "Workers on strike over dealat France Soir". International Herald Tribune. Retrieved 2008-08-20.
- "Jason Fraser: A red-top in the land of les bleus". independent.co.uk. 12 June 2006. Retrieved 2008-08-20.