France's Top Newspaper Faces Crisis

Le Monde says 20% of its journalists must leave by next week
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 23, 2008 12:40 PM CDT
French daily Le Monde employees gather front of the building during a rare strike at the paper over plans to eliminate 130 jobs, in Paris, Monday, April 14, 2008.    (AP Photo/Francois Mori)
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(Newser) – In the past year, the French newspaper Le Monde has endured the worst crisis in its history, losing its editor-in-chief and failing to appear on newsstands for days during a series of strikes. Now its 340 staffers have been given an ultimatum, writes the Guardian: Unless about 20% accept voluntary resignations by next week, the independent paper will be taken over by corporate owners.

The financial straits of Le Monde are so dire that the paper could be bankrupt in as little as 4 years. Outsiders say that to survive, the prestigious title must abandon the unique scheme in which the staff controls its holding company. "In France," said one Spanish journalist, "people haven't accepted that running a newspaper is a business, you have to make money."