It’s Different In France: Journos Oust ‘Le Monde’ Chairman

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By: E&P Staff

When a big-city newspaper’s circulation starts falling in the United States, reporters and editors fret about impending layoffs. But apparently when circs go south in France, it’s the journalists who do the firing.

As Kim Wilsher, reporting in Paris for The Guardian in Manchester, U.K., writes Wednesday, the reporters and editors voted to dismiss the chairman of Le Monde, the Parisian daily whose circulation over the past seven years has fallen to a new low of 350,000.

The newsroom has veto power over the reappointment of the chairman of Le Monde’s management board — and this week it used it to deny a new six-year term to Jean-Marie Colombani, who had led the prestigious daily for the past 13 years.

Colombani needed a vote of at least 60% of the newsroom, but got only 46.68% in the secret ballot, the Guardian reported.

The paper said journalists resented his management style, which they compared to rule by an absolute monarch.” They also questioned his strategy of piling on debt with media acquisitions at a time when the daily newspaper was hemorrhaging money.

“To cover the debts Mr. Colombani had sought external investment, a move that angered journalists, who hold shares in the paper and who feared losing their influence and independence,” the Guardian said.

Outside investors control 47% of the group now, the report added.

Colombani began as a journalist at Le Monde in 1977, and was named chairman in 1994.

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