Le Monde editor-in-chief resigns

29th November 2004, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Nov 29 (AFP) - The editor-in-chief of Le Monde, France's pre-eminent newspaper, announced his resignation Monday, adding to a general sense of crisis that is gripping the French press.

PARIS, Nov 29 (AFP) - The editor-in-chief of Le Monde, France's pre-eminent newspaper, announced his resignation Monday, adding to a general sense of crisis that is gripping the French press.

Edwy Plenel, 52, said in a statement he was leaving the post he held for the past eight years "to go back to the simple joys of journalism and writing".

He said he had decided to step down late last month but was subjected to pressure from the newspaper's director, Jean-Marie Colombani, and other executives to stay on.

"Their propositions could not overcome my reticence," he said, adding that he would leave his current office mid-December.

Plenel, before becoming a manager at Le Monde, played a leading role in developing investigative journalism in France, notably in helping to uncover the Rainbow Warrior affair revealing that French agents had blown up the Greenpeace ship of the same name in New Zealand.

And he was a central target of a controversial telephone monitoring scheme by the then French president Francois Mitterrand.

Le Monde, like other French national dailies, has been experiencing financial hardship of late.

It has cut 90 staff after newsstand sales fell by more than 10 percent in a year to bring circulation down to around 340,000, and is looking for an investor to take a one-third stake for around EUR 50 million (USD 67 million).

It also had its reputation as a paper of reference badly damaged by a book, "The Hidden Face of Le Monde", published last year with allegations of bias, editorial arrogance and ambitions of influencing politics rather than reporting it. The newspaper strongly rejected the attacks.

Le Monde's rivals are faring little better in the marketplace.

Cash-strapped Liberation, which puts itself further to the left, fears its own independence may be called into question if a businessman, Edouard de Rothschild, sees through plans to grab a third of its capital in return for EUR 20 million (USD 27 million).

Rothschild, president of France Galop, which organises horse races, on Monday told the conservative daily Le Figaro - itself struggling with declining readership and the recent purchase by an industrialist - that "Liberation has all the qualities needed to be the driving force for the diversified press group that I want to build."

Though he declined to specify how much he was willing to invest, Rothschild said: "It is common knowledge that Liberation is looking for a investment on the order of EUR 20 million (27 million dollars)."

© AFP

Subject: French News

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