8 November 2005 front page
of Le Monde
|Owner||La Vie-Le Monde|
|Headquarters||Bd Auguste-Blanqui 80,
F-75707 Paris Cedex 13
Le Monde (French pronunciation: [lə mɔ̃d]; English: The World) is a French daily evening newspaper founded by Hubert Beuve-Méry and continuously published in Paris since its first edition on 19 December 1944. It is one of two French newspapers of record along with Le Figaro, and the main publication of La Vie-Le Monde Group. It reports an average circulation of 323,039 copies per issue in 2009, about 40,000 of which are sold abroad. It has been available on the Internet since 19 December 1995, and is often the only French newspaper easily obtainable in non-French-speaking countries. It should not be confused with the monthly publication Le Monde diplomatique, of which Le Monde has 51% ownership, but which is editorially independent.
The paper's journalistic side has a collegial form of organization, in which most journalists are not only tenured, but financial stakeholders in the enterprise as well, and participate in the elections of upper management and senior executives. In the 1990s and 2000s, La Vie-Le Monde Group expanded under editor Jean-Marie Colombani with a number of acquisitions. However, its profitability was not sufficient to cover the large debt loads it took on to fund this expansion, and it sought new investors in 2010 to keep the company out of bankruptcy. In June 2010, investors Matthieu Pigasse, Pierre Bergé, and Xavier Niel acquired a controlling stake in the newspaper.
In contrast to other world newspapers such as The New York Times, Le Monde was traditionally focused on offering analysis and opinion, as opposed to being a newspaper of record. Hence, it was considered less important for the paper to cover "all the news that's fit to print" (the motto of The New York Times) than to offer thoughtful interpretation of current events. For instance, on the 10th anniversary of the sinking of the Rainbow Warrior, the newspaper directly implicated François Mitterrand, who was president at the time, in the operation. In recent years, however, the paper has established a greater distinction between fact and opinion.
The current chief editor is Natalie Nougayrède, who in March 2013 was elected to succeed Érik Izraelewicz following his death in November 2012. Plantu is one of several political cartoonists who contribute to the paper, and his work is often featured on the front page above the fold.
Le Monde was founded at the request of General Charles de Gaulle after the German army was driven from Paris during World War II, and took over the headquarters and layout of Le Temps, which was the most important newspaper in France before but whose reputation had suffered during the Occupation. Beuve-Méry reportedly demanded total editorial independence as the condition for his taking on the project.
In 1981, it backed the election of Socialist François Mitterrand on the grounds that alternation of the political party in government would be beneficial to the country. The paper endorsed centrist candidate Edouard Balladur in the 1995 presidential election and Ségolène Royal, the Socialist Party candidate, in the 2007 presidential election.
Public debate has swirled around the issue of the French government's stake in Le Monde, and questions have been raised concerning the level of independence from state influence. State ownership of Le Monde reportedly stands at 26 percent.
Controversies and politics
According to the Mitrokhin Archive investigators, Le Monde (KGB codename VESTNIK, "messenger") was the KGB's key outlet for spreading anti-American and pro-Soviet disinformation to the French media. The archive identified two senior Le Monde journalists and several contributors who were used in the operations (See also Russian influence operations in France).
Michel Legris, a former journalist with the paper, wrote Le Monde tel qu'il est (Le Monde as it is) in 1976. According to him, the journal minimized the atrocities committed by the Cambodian Khmer Rouge.
In their 2003 book titled La Face cachée du Monde (The Hidden face of "Le Monde"), authors Pierre Péan and Philippe Cohen alleged that Colombani and then-editor Edwy Plenel had shown, amongst other things, partisan bias and had engaged in financial dealings that compromised the paper's independence. It also accused the paper of dangerously damaging the authority of the French state by having revealed various political scandals (notably corruption scandals surrounding Jacques Chirac, the "Irish of Vincennes" affair, and the sinking of a Greenpeace boat, the Rainbow Warrior, by French intelligence under President François Mitterrand). This book remains controversial, but attracted much attention and media coverage in France and around the world at the time of its publication. Following a lawsuit, the authors and the publisher agreed in 2004 not to proceed to any reprinting.
Le Monde has been found guilty of defamation for saying that Spanish soccer club FC Barcelona was connected to a doctor involved in steroid use. The Spanish court fined the newspaper nearly $450,000.
Recent circulation history
Le Monde is published around midday, and the date on the masthead is the following day's. For instance, the issue released at midday on 15 March shows 16 March on the masthead. It is available on newsstands in Paris and some other parts of France on the day of release, and received by mail subscribers on the masthead date.
In December 2006, on the 60th anniversary of its publishing début, the journal moved into new headquarters at n°80, Boulevard Auguste-Blanqui.
The building—formerly the headquarters of Air France—was refashioned by Bouygues from the designs of Christian de Portzamparc. The building's façade has an enormous fresco adorned by doves (drawn by Plantu) flying towards Victor Hugo, symbolising freedom of the press.
- Hubert Beuve-Méry (1944–1969)
- Jacques Fauvet (1969–1981)
- Claude Julien (1981–1982)
- André Laurens (1982–1985)
- André Fontaine (1985–1991)
- Jacques Lesourne (1991–1994)
- Jean-Marie Colombani (1994–2007)
- Éric Fottorino (2007–2010)
- Érik Izraelewicz (2011–2012)
- Claude Julien, editor in 1969
- List of French newspapers
- Le Figaro
- El País, newspaper in Spain inspired by Le Monde
- Jean-Louis de Rambures, journalist
- Willsher, Kim. "Tycoons given go-ahead for financial takeover of Le Monde" The Guardian, 28 June 2010
- Le Monde — Portrait d'un quotidien
- Angelique Chrisafis "Le Monde's Natalie Nougayrède: 'This is quite a revolution'", The Guardian, 5 May 2013
- Thogmartin, Clyde (1998). "The Golden Age and the War Years". The National Daily Press of France. Summa Publications, Inc. p. 113. ISBN 1-883479-20-7.
- "The battle for Le Monde" Prospect, 26 July 2010
- Christopher Andrew, Vasili Mitrokhin: The Mitrokhin Archive. The KGB in Europe and the West. London, Penguin Books 2000, ISBN 978-0-14-028487-4, p. 613.
- "Barcelona wins lawsuit against French newspaper Le Monde". usatoday.com. USA Today. 15 January 2008. Retrieved 2 December 2013.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Le Monde.|
- Le Monde website (French)
- Le Monde mobile site (French)
- (English) Regular French Press Review—Radio France International
- English translations of Le Monde articles available through nonprofit WorldMeets.US