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Crisis at Libération -- Part One

by afew Sat Nov 18th, 2006 at 04:05:01 AM EST

Buying and reading a daily newspaper is not as common in some countries as in others. Huge numbers of dailies are sold in China and India (with populations to back that up, of course), but look at Japan: the world's three highest-circulation dailies are Japanese, with the N° 1, the Yomiuri Shimbun, selling over ten million copies daily in a country of 128 million inhabitants. That's a little more than the population of the UK and France taken together - but the British and French don't buy the press anything like on the Japanese scale.

Above all, the French don't buy daily papers. In Britain, The Sun sells 3.15 million copies a day, the Daily Mail 2.3 million. Here, in comparison, are the top circulation rankings for France:

The best-selling daily is the Parisien/Aujourd'hui at around half a million copies. To take an example from elsewhere in the world, the Arizona Republic sells rather better than that. (France, pop. 60 million, Arizona, pop. 5 million...)

What chance left-of-centre dailies against this background?

Promoted by whataboutbob


Le Monde is France's newspaper of record, traditionally centre-left, today a kind of fuzzy centre in which opportunism seems to me to play a part. L'Humanité (founded by Jean Jaurès), was for many years the official organ of the Communist Party, but got into difficulties with the collapse of the Soviet Union and the ensuing decline of the PCF. Libération (founded by Jean-Paul Sartre), combines irreverence with fairly moderate left attitudes and has a younger, hipper style than Le Monde. It can be outspoken, which Le Monde is not, and its journalism is closer to the roots. It is lively, idiosyncratic, has a special history (see next diary), and is an important voice on the French media scene.

That last point matters. Libé never succeeded in its earlier ambition of being a mass-circulation popular paper, but it did become a voice. So here's an independent, outspoken if need be, clearly left (even if not so leftie as in its early years) voice in the French national discourse.

Great. But running a national daily means high basic overheads, especially if it's done with the intention of providing serious original content. Circulation numbers like those above don't cover costs.

  • L'Humanité was for many years funded by the PC, which was funded in turn by the Kremlin. When that source dried up, l'Huma became an independent paper with, at the same time, faltering circulation as the faithful (or faithless) left the Party. It has managed to survive, but with capital from two major engineering and media groups: Bouygues (public works, television, telecoms) and Lagardère (EADS, press).
  • Le Monde was struggling a little over ten years ago. It has been doing better since it reorganized and recapitalised in a complex set-up including stock exchange quotation and participation at various levels of Lagardère, Bouygues, Vivendi, businessman François Pinault and his advisor Alain Minc.
  • After the Mitterand years, Libé began to struggle and went through crises. Fresh capital influx was sought. In 2005, Edouard de Rothschild came in with 20 m euros.

The 20 million have gone. In June this year Rothschild obtained the departure of historic chief editor Serge July. Since then Libé has been in crisis. Despite more than fifty lay-offs, funds are lacking and the paper's accounts are under judicial supervision.


The newspaper is run by a holding company, SAIP (Société Anonyme Investissements Presse), in which the equity is held as follows:

  • Edouard de Rothschild (Holding Financier Jean Goujon : HFJG) : 38,87%
  • SCPL (Société civile des personnels de Libération) [all employees grouped in a company]: 18,45%
  • Soparic Participations (Pathé) [Jérôme Seydoux, former main capital provider from 1996-2005] : 16,77 %
  • 3i (Investors in industry) : 10,53%
  • Communication et Participation (Les Amis de Libération, actionnaire historique) [Friends of Libération, historic shareholder] : 10,06%
  • Suez Communication (2,53%), El Mundo (1,01%), La Libre Belgique (1,01%), Le Nouvel Observateur (0,77%)

The statutes accord 3 seats out of 15 on the board to the employees' company SCPL, which also has a right of veto on all "essential decisions concerning the newspaper's future". Freedom of the editorial line is also guaranteed by the statutes.


Former Le Monde editor Edwy Plenel came through with a plan to build the web operation (Libé was the first French newspaper to open a web site) into a subscription site, bringing in a revenue stream; he didn't convince a substantial part of the staff (the SCPL), and Edouard de Rothschild opposed it too.

Rothschild had an audit done, which came up with a scale-down plan involving big lay-offs, detailed last week at a board meeting :

  • Of 280 employees, between 102 and 107 must go;
  • of these, 50-55 out of 138 journalists;
  • of "other editorial" staff, 16 out of 28;
  • so, of total editorial staff of 166, 40%-43% would be fired.

This is obviously opposed by the staff, who would accept in all 66 job closures.

Laurent Joffrin, managing editor of the Nouvel Observateur, resigned from that job in hopes of heading Libé. This morning (17 November) he spoke to the staff in a meeting. (from Le Monde) :

From the start, the journalist declared he was not "Edouard de Rothschild's man" <...> and he would be able to protect "the independence" of Libération. But the speech Laurent Joffrin made to the daily's employees, Thursday 17 November, was received with little enthusiasm.

D'emblée, le journaliste a affirmé qu'il n'était pas "l'homme d'Edouard de Rothschild" <...> et qu'il saurait préserver "l'indépendance" de Libération. Mais le discours qu'a tenu Laurent Joffrin aux salariés du quotidien, jeudi 16 novembre, a été accueilli avec peu d'enthousiasme.

The return of Mr Joffrin, who was managing editor [of Libé] from 1996 to 1999, seems for the time being to divide the editorial staff. On Monday, [Joffrin] surprised everyone by announcing just before a board meeting that he was leaving his post to bid for the top spot at Libé, an announcement some employees found "cavalier" since his name has already been linked to Edouard de Rothschild's for several months now.

Le retour de M. Joffrin, qui avait été directeur de la rédaction de 1996 à 1999, semble pour le moment diviser la rédaction. Lundi, le directeur de la rédaction du Nouvel Observateur a créé la surprise en annonçant à quelques heures du conseil d'administration qu'il démissionnait de son poste pour briguer la direction de Libération, une annonce qu'un certain nombre de salariés ont trouvé "cavalière" alors que son nom était déjà associé depuis plusieurs mois à celui d'Edouard de Rothschild.

Joffrin too offered strong development of Internet activities, a paper "clearly on the left", a daily not a magazine, and a compromise on the number of terminations.

Edouard de Rothschild is backing this and has asked the staff to vote this afternoon (until 7 pm) on three questions:

  • Are you in favour of Laurent Joffrin's arrival as managing director (CEO)?
  • Do you agree with the "social plan"? (ie the lay-offs)
  • Do you agree with the change of governance? (ie the end of the SCPL's right of veto)

Employees are reportedly reluctant to take part in this vote - though they are aware they have little wiggle room. The delegates who make up the SCPL have reportedly come down against the Joffrin plan. But Rothschild has the whip hand. If he gets his way, he will inject 15 million euros. If he doesn't do that, the daily will disappear.

Update [2006-11-17 16:1:46 by afew]: The vote took place and the employees voted in favour of the Joffrin/Rothschild plan


Some of the names that feature above as whole or part owners or runners of newspapers have other media interests, and are closely associated with Nicolas Sarkozy.

Martin Bouygues runs the Bouygues public works and telecommunications empire and owns the Number One French TV channel, TF1 (totally pro-Sarko). Close friend of Sarkozy.

Arnaud Lagardère owns an empire that includes a chunk of EADS and above all most of French publishing and a nice piece of American (Hachette). Close friend of Sarkozy.

Alain Minc, ultra-economic-liberal pundit and consultant, close friend of Sarkozy.

Edouard de Rothschild downplays it, but is a friend of Sarkozy.

Sarkozy is certainly highly media-conscious and misses no opportunity to appear on TV, using his position as government N° 2 to get himself invited to TV news, or organising photo-ops and inviting TV and press. I think it's fair to say no French politician has done anything like as much of this in the past. And there are voices that insinuate, or say outright, that Sarkozy is using his influence and that of his friends to muzzle the press of the centre and the left - in view, of course, of the presidential campaign, and of the ten to fifteen years he can hope to have at the Elysée after that.

Laurent Joffrin is unimpeachably on the left and cannot be suspected of working for Sarkozy. Still and all, what Rothschild wants will weaken Libé's capacity to do investigative journalism or good, hard-hitting files, because the editorial staff will be spread too thin. And, above all, Rothschild wants to put an end to what's left of an historic experiment in workers' control, by removing the right of veto of the employees on decisions affecting the paper's future.

This situation has moved politicians on the left to wake up and start talking about how to support Libé and, in general, guarantee a plural press in a context where the same big business money with the same right-wing and ultra-liberal references is taking over the entire show. PS leaders of the Assembly and Senate have spoken of the need to support Libération. But who has the fifteen million euros?

PART TWO will be an overview of the history of Libération from 1973

Excellent story...and overview of the newspaper numbers!

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia
by whataboutbob on Fri Nov 17th, 2006 at 11:56:05 AM EST
Insanely low numbers... The biggest norwegian daily sells a little under 400.000 a day.
by Trond Ove on Fri Nov 17th, 2006 at 12:45:41 PM EST
To be taken in context. Most people in France do not read the national dailies - they are mostly a strictly Parisian affair. Ouest-France (Bretagne, much of Normandie) has circulation of double the biggest national daily. A couple of the other regionals are either larger than or similar in reasch to Le Monde as well, for instance Le Progres, L'Est Republicain, Sud Ouest amd maybe Le Dauphine Libere come to mind.

France, once you leave Paris, is like the US, very much a country of local papers. You will find very few people in Toulon or Lyon reading Le Monde, far more likely to see Var Matin or Le Progres. OTOH, as elsewhere, printed paid circulation is dropping accross the board, as the convergence with new media is pursued in earnest.

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill

by r------ on Fri Nov 17th, 2006 at 01:25:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Erm... This might be the reason:


No numbers for France, unfortunately.

by Trond Ove on Fri Nov 17th, 2006 at 02:14:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
As to the issue of local versus national papers, a quick back-of-the-envelope calculation based on the above statistics, I would put national papers at about 20-25 percent of the total circulation. So the national papers are clearly not alone in the Norwegian market.
by Trond Ove on Fri Nov 17th, 2006 at 02:18:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Helsingin Sanomat - Helsinki daily, English-language pages
Ilta-Sanomat - Helsinki, evening daily
Hufvudstadsbladet - Helsinki, Swedish-language daily
Kauppalehti - Helsinki, business daily
Taloussanomat - Helsinki, business daily
Aamulehti - Tampere, daily
Turun Sanomat - Turku, daily
Demari - Helsinki, organ of Social Democratic Party
Kansan Uutiset - Helsinki, organ of Left Alliance
Iltalehti - Helsinki, evening daily

Helsingin Sanomat, the biggest selling daily)  has a circulation of around 435,000 (population 5 million), but it is falling slowly. It is mostly subscription based ie delivered every morning.

HS is a good intelligent read with little celebrity-fawning, and decent coverage of arts and culture.

The rising star is the more downmarket tabloid Iltalehti, with circulation at around 130,000. It is a quick read, focuses a lot on local and international celebrity, and looks more like webpage. It's crap.

Even purely business/economy papers such as Kauppalehti run at 80.000 and sales are rising slowly.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Sat Nov 18th, 2006 at 05:21:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If only Parisiens read the so-called "national dailies," why are they called national dailies?
by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Sat Nov 18th, 2006 at 05:03:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Because they get distributed nationally and are read by the regional elites.

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Nov 18th, 2006 at 05:08:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Apparently not distributed very well.

Perhaps they could save money by dropping the pretense at being national and eliminating their regional print runs.

by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Sat Nov 18th, 2006 at 05:26:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Make sure to take account of local papers.

Most people I know, and most of my family, do not read national dailies, but rather, our local paper (Var Matin or La Marseillaise, selon)...

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill

by r------ on Fri Nov 17th, 2006 at 01:29:40 PM EST
Sure, regional dailies are important. You're right the top seller is Ouest-France with 781,000 paid circulation. (See this page for stats).

But the numbers are still not phenomenal. And equivalent (in total population, not, I realize, in terms of population density) countries like the UK also have local dailies, yet the national dailies sell in millions where their French opposite numbers sell in hundreds of thousands.

More than that, though, I'd point out that my subject above is national dailies providing original content, representing a political viewpoint, and capable of being independent if not outspoken. I may be wrong, (since I don't know them all), but I can't think of a French regional daily that fits that bill. Regionals may be tied to a political side, roughly, but they tend to be fuzzy so as not to lose sales. Their original content is strictly local and mostly from stringers. International and national questions are mostly covered by agency wires. It's rare that a regional comes up with something influential in the national political sphere.

What I'm concerned to see is the growing weight of a certain type of private capital -- politically aligned -- on editorial staffs that contribute to the "national discourse".

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Nov 18th, 2006 at 12:13:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
One thing that should be mentioned as well is that dailies have been replaced for many by the hugely successful - and numerous weekly magazines. There are several generalist magazines (a bit like Time or Newsweek, with probably more focus on politics and current affairs; names include L'Express, Le Nouvel Observateur, Le Point, Marianne, Paris-Match, each with a different political line) and tons of specialised magazines and they sell well and capture a lot of the glossy advertising.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sat Nov 18th, 2006 at 12:51:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Learning.. learning...

a pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Fri Nov 17th, 2006 at 05:27:54 PM EST
Great diary, afew.  I was wondering about the workers and their share...  They don't have the money, too few of 'em, to put up millions of euros, but the paper needs financing as it works out how to survive in the internet age, and...as you write in your comment, against a background of strong regional journalism.  This diary is part of series.  Excellent!  I very much enjoy a series of articles.  Great no messin' about journalism...  But I am one of those who has stopped reading the printed press, and it was only partly about political direction.  The Indpendent is a great read, but now there's the Internet...yet the Internet also lives off the back of (but not only off the back of) the world's printed stories...  Issa money thang...

I suppose when you have a rich man financing your media outlet (he he), then when he decides he's spent enough, or when he decides he won't spend more than X, but keeping it going in its current form will cost Y...

Do most ET folks still read daily papers?  I don't mean the online versions.  Coz it does cost money to get certain stories into print....maybe there's a "foreign correspondant" element--which will change as writers--journalists-to-be--across the world start writing from the local situation...  Maybe the paid role is...I dunno.  Maybe there's a role for the overview?  But that can be long and takes more attention than a Zap Zap of headlines...  (OT -- I love the bilingual columns, always will!)

And...and...there's a value to having a printed statement of the facts from a "left" (progressive?) standpoint out there, on the streets.  Given that the "right" writers (reactionary?  corrupted by money?) will indeed slant the truth and tell lies and not care...what the plebs read is fine as long as it serves our purpose...etc...  So how to square that circle?

The journalists voted for Edouard de Rothschild's plan.  What kinda guy is he?  Old liberal family made their money from something positive?

I suppose it depends what one wants a newspaper to do...protect truth against other newspapers' lies...but the biggest sellers are the freebies...and they go on about...well...superficial tat, perhaps, but they set a tone, create a mood...tat is good...read tat!  You can't get cheaper than tat!

(Not that I've read the freebies, and this comment has wandered and wavered...worra great diary, afew!  A very enjoyable, educative and interesting read!)

(Yes, I think the loss of a purposely progressive-identified paper is dangerous...more in France....no, I dunno.  I'm learning, too!  Great work.  Mojo mojo!)

Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.

by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Fri Nov 17th, 2006 at 08:32:55 PM EST
very interesting...thanks

isn't japan alpha-geeky, all broadbanded out?

you'd think that would be less printed press, not more.

i wonder if it's like that in s. korea.

this fact of rotschild (red  shield) an old banking family,  pumping € into a lefty organ seems odd.

or is it an illuminati plot?

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Fri Nov 17th, 2006 at 10:19:43 PM EST
and it's time they disappear in the "paper" form

producing paper is extremely polluting
printing paper is pollution
distributing paper is polluting
paper cannot be recycled to 100% but that is a lesser problem

the important part is the human part, not the media support. Newspapers will survive online (and will add media features impossible to do on paper) and those who will survive are the ones with the best content, presentation and interactivity.

Newspapers in paper form already belong to museums. In a sustainable economy they should very expensive.  

by oldfrog on Sat Nov 18th, 2006 at 05:13:30 AM EST
On what figures do you base these statements?

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Sat Nov 18th, 2006 at 05:23:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I have been living in Sweden for 30 years and worked in environment...

to make paper you need to cut trees, transform them into pulp, bleach it with chemicals, warm up the breew with oil and release phenol/chlorine-containing fibers into lakes... (thats the simple part). Besides cutting trres isn't good for biodiversity and and  global warming.

to print paper you need ink. Inks are not that nice chemicals and the solvents aren't either. All this is a question of scale. Than all this need energy too.

to transport newspapers you ned trucks to transport relatively heavy stuff to people who in most case will throw the stuff in the garbage after reading 1% of it if they even buy the stuff...

to recycle paper you need to depollute, rebleach it and reprint it. It goes the first time. The forth time you have low quality toilet paper...

you can skip all that if you red your magazine on the net...

by oldfrog on Sat Nov 18th, 2006 at 05:41:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I've been living in Finland for over 30 years and worked on both sides of the issue.

But I do still work closely with one of the major Finnish papermakers, so you should take that into account in what I say.

Cutting trees - we cut wheat too. A non-issue. It's called harvesting. Almost all Finnish cuts are from plantation forests that are over 100 years old. Cutting is controlled according to a master plan, and more trees are planted - by law - than are cut down. The only real issue with biodiversity is whether to allow forest fires to burn because some species require heat-driven germination, and a different pattern of seed advantage occurs after fires. But all this has been extensively and independently studied and can be managed intelligently.

The above also addresses the global warming issue - as far as the Nordic countries go.

The pulp and paper process you describe is very old. Most Nordic paper mills today are closed-process - energy comes from recycled components such as bark, used chemicals. Water is aerobically treated before release. The fact that salmon again swim in the Kymi river is an indication of the changes that have taken place over the last 30 years. Salmon are highly sensitive to even minimal water pollution. Air pollution has also been radically reduced by new scrubbing treatments - even heat is recycled.

I admit though that there is a lot more that could be done in the papermaking process, though the returns for such investment are decreasing.

I have less experience on the printing side. Inks are a problem, though again, there has been much research into new types of vegetable inks. Drying solvents are more pernicious.

All industrial processes require energy - including the making of computers, and screens of all types etc. I am not sure how you would measure energy use versus product usefulness. Energy is a cost built into product price.

The answer to the transport problem (though most Finnish paper trravels by sea which has one of the lowest energy costs per mile, by far) is to reduce the distances. And to have an intelligent recycling policy. As several leading Finnish paper engineers have argued, there is little point to recycling printed paper in the Nordics. It does use less energy as a process than making virgin paper, but only if you count the production process only - when you factor in the collection and transport of the used paper it makes little sense.

In modern incineration plants (even small local scale plants) it can produce net energy and be done with minimal pollution using fluid bed processes and advanced scrubbers.

All in all, it would be smarter to recycle paper fibre as internal contruction material composites, rather than remaking paper.

However, I agree with you on the advantages of the net and I am actively involved in promoting its use as a communications medium. I believe the next generation (including my teenage daughters) will move away from print-based media. For now though, I do not see how we can deny people access to information, if they prefer to get that information via print.

A far more worrying prediction is what will happen to print media in rapidly evolving economies sych as China where paper/carton use still stands at under 20 kilos per capita per year, compared with 300 for Europe and over 350 in N. America. Should paper use in China approach developed world consumption it would require more than 1000 new mill companies each the size of the Nordic giants with all the attendant sourcing and process problems.

There is only one source of boreal fibre close to that market - the unexploited Eastern Siberian forests. And even they cannot provide enough fibre to supply the required production of 2 billion tonnes of paper a year.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Sat Nov 18th, 2006 at 06:36:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
All the more proof.  Hope China is wiser and never tries newspaper wars.

Our knowledge has surpassed our wisdom. -Charu Saxena.
by metavision on Sat Nov 18th, 2006 at 11:26:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The same applies to food production.

What I am arguing is that current paper production levels in the Nordic countries (supplying Europe) are sustainable. The fact that China's consumption may make world paper production unsustainable is part of a different argument.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Sat Nov 18th, 2006 at 11:39:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In my personal view, waste is never sustainable and printed papers are increasingly becoming waste.

Food production is not in the same category of human necessity.

Our knowledge has surpassed our wisdom. -Charu Saxena.

by metavision on Sat Nov 18th, 2006 at 01:55:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That is not so in Finland, as the circulation figures I posted above show. It may well be true elsewhere.

Helsingin Sanomat sells 400,000 plus daily in a population of 5 million. It is THE major source of news and comment - even in a connected online nation such as Finland. Do the math.

I regard news and comment to be in exactly the same category as food. As you say in your sig: "Ignorance is curable, stupidity is fatal"

Perhaps it has to be looked at case by case. All the Nordic populations are avid readers (and I mean reading, as opposed to looking at pictures with captions), and maybe this is connected to the values of these societies.

Yes, things will change. But I for one am not now going to force Finns to give up their newspapers, magazines and books. When a medium emerges that satisifies the 'curing of ignorance' as effectively as the quality newspaper, the quality magazine or the quality book - then there will be changes.

Until then Finns will continue to wastefully recycle print, bound by one-size-fits-all EU regulations which have no vision of the flow of fibre through Europe.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Sat Nov 18th, 2006 at 02:30:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
some comments :

90% of the Swedish forest is plantation forest. It demands the use of clear cutting and very rough other methods causing soil erosion. The  taiga type forest has never the time to grow up to climax. There are practically no wild forests left in Sweden (probably the same in Finland) excepts in National parks (1% of the total national surface). This is mostly due to the paper industry because oser uses of timber are far more limited. Biodiversity is already low in the taiga-type forest for natural reasons. In the plantation forest it's ridiculous.

I agree that some progresses have been made in the paper mill industry specially the decreasing use of chlorine bleached paper. But the processes I described above are still the most current, at least they were 1999 when I left (I was working at the environmental section of the prefecture of Orebro county). Whatever you do with the process, as long as you use water, there will be fibers. Have you ever seen a river poisoned by fiber banks ?

With transport I meant primarily the transport from the printing factory to the selling places. What I know of they don't go by boat.

My point is that the important resource in "newspapers" is the journalists. The printed paper can die, the on-line journalism will take over.

by oldfrog on Sat Nov 18th, 2006 at 02:52:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Great comment, thanks.

I see that you are now in France, do you know what the situation is in France forest-wise?

by Laurent GUERBY on Sun Nov 19th, 2006 at 03:25:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
sorry for the typos
by oldfrog on Sat Nov 18th, 2006 at 05:47:28 AM EST
One third of the media is controlled by Hachette, part of the Lagardère group, and Arnaud Lagardère is an intimate friend of Sarkozy (he presented him to his employess as such: 'this is not my friend, this is my brother', and he got Alain Genestar, the Editor in Chief of Paris Match, fired for publishing the picture of Cecilia Sarkozy with her lover last year).

Another third is controlled by Marcel Dassault, a rabidly rightwing guy (and UMP MP).

both "thirds" above include the regional press.

Both Lagardère (EADS) and Dassault (Dassault) are big arms groups wholly dependent on State orders.

And the rest of the national press is in terrible financial situation and thus dependent on existing State subsidies.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sat Nov 18th, 2006 at 07:54:02 AM EST
These diaries are so well put together, Afew.  Good Work.

Tell me, where does the "Chained Duck (Canard Enchaine?) that Jerome likes so much fit into this picture?

Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. -Voltaire

by p------- on Sat Nov 18th, 2006 at 10:53:08 AM EST
The Chained-Up Duck is totally independent and advertising-free. It has a website but you can't see more than the front page there. You have to buy the print edition if you want to read all the secrets and tip-offs that are in there.

It has no financial problems that I have heard of. Its reputation is so solid it sells very well. (No circulation figure available, though). Most importantly compared to the papers mentioned above, it's a weekly. Running a daily is a much bigger, more expensive operation.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Nov 18th, 2006 at 11:42:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
For some financial data, see this blog post (french).

I've heard somewhere that its cash reserves are so high, that the journal could keep printing its current number for fifty years without selling any one of them before cash run out.

It is one of the two french printed newspaper I buy and read.

by Laurent GUERBY on Sat Nov 18th, 2006 at 02:29:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
is hugely profitable, despite running no ads, and despite often going into frontal battle with the powers-that-be (this week, for instance, it is running a - as usual strongly documented - about Chirac holding a 50 million dollar bank account in Japan).

Its financial strength is what makes it independent and able to withstand any kind of pressure. It is owned by its journalists.

But as afew says, it is a 8-page weekly, so it's certainly not exhaustive. And it has also made itself indispensable as the best source of inside gossip on politicians and what they really think about one another...

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sat Nov 18th, 2006 at 12:48:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Great diary, afew, thanks for this.  I had no idea that Libé was in such crisis.

The US newspaper industry has been contracting for years, but nothing like this.  How alarming.

by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Sat Nov 18th, 2006 at 05:01:30 PM EST

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