Le Monde (The World) is a French daily evening newspaper with a circulation of close to 400,000. It is considered the French newspaper of record, and is generally well respected, often the only French newspaper easily obtainable in non-Francophone countries. From its inception, Le Monde has demanded and maintained independence to formulate its own policies. With coverage both nationally and internationally, the paper has consistently presented in depth analysis of newsworthy events, without adhering to any particular political position, although generally it is regarded as somewhat left of center.
Focusing on opinion and depth rather than breadth of coverage, Le Monde has established itself, and despite serious criticism at the beginning of the twenty-first century, maintains a prominent position interpreting and informing the public about significant world events. As such, it performs a vital role in an increasingly globalized society, and has the potential to advance human society worldwide.
Le Monde was founded by Hubert Beuve-Méry at the request of General Charles de Gaulle after the German army was driven from Paris during World War II. It took over the format of Le Temps, whose reputation had suffered during the Occupation. Beuve-Méry reportedly demanded total editorial independence as the condition for his taking on the project. The first edition appeared on November 19, 1944. Le Monde has been available on the internet since December 19, 1995. It is the principal publication of Groupe Le Monde. The newspaper should not be confused with the monthly publication Le Monde diplomatique, of which Le Monde has 51 percent ownership, but which is editorially independent.
Beuve-Méry retired from his position in 1969. Since 1994, the board chairman and director of publication has been Jean-Marie Colombani. From 1996, Edwy Plenel served as editor-in-chief (rédacteur en chef), but he resigned in 2004 following the publication of the book critical of the paper, La face cachée du Monde and disagreement with Colombani over the direction the paper should take. Since 2006, the editor-in-chief has been Éric Fottorino. Plantu (Jean Plantureux) is one of several political cartoonists who contribute to the paper, and his work is often featured on the front page above the fold.
In contrast with Le Figaro, which traditionally caters to the right, and Libération, which serves the far left, Le Monde is thought to be the choice of those in the center. At the outset, de Gaulle's France was regarded as possessing
the world's finest newspaper, Le Monde. Under the austere regime of Hubert Beuve-Méry, Paris enjoyed a daily whose international coverage, political independence and intellectual standards put it in a class by itself in the Western press of the period. According to some, The New York Times, the Times or Frankfurter Allgemeine were provincial rags by comparison.
In the past, its stance was often described as center-left, this has become more moderate in recent years. Some critics contend that its current line is, broadly speaking, biased against Jacques Chirac. 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.
In contrast to other world newspapers such as The New York Times, Le Monde used to be more geared to analysis and opinion, rather than simply 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. Writers of lead reporting articles did not hesitate to provide commentary or venture predictions. In later years, however, greater separation was established between facts and opinion.
The paper's journalistic side has a collegial form of organization, in which most journalists are not only tenured but also financial stakeholders in the enterprise and participate in the elections of upper management and senior executives.
Despite its reputation for quality reporting, in their 2003 book entitled La face cachée du Monde ("The hidden face of Le Monde"), authors Pierre Péan and Philippe Cohen alleged that Colombani and then editor-in-chief Edwy Plenel had, amongst other things, shown partisan bias and 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, and the sinking of a Greenpeace boat, the Rainbow Warrior, by French intelligence under President François Mitterrand). In one chapter, the authors of the book accused Colombani and Plenel of "xenophilia" and of "not liking France." 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.
While suffering such attacks, Le Monde has generally been recognized as maintaining a consistently high standard together with independence in the formulation of its editorial policies, leading historian Richard Vinen to note that:
Le Monde, which has been right about so many important things (Stalinism in the 1940s; torture during the Algerian war), is pilloried every time it falls short of its own impossibly high standards.
During the 2004 U.S. presidential election, The Economist published an article in which John F. Kerry's popularity among Europeans (allegedly based on his cosmopolitanism and leftism) was illustrated by a cartoon showing him holding a copy of Le Monde.
Le Monde is an "evening" newspaper. The first copies are distributed in the Paris kiosks around midday; in the suburbs of Paris in the afternoon; and in the provinces in the evening or the next morning. The date on the masthead is for the following day. That is, the issue that is released at midday in Paris on March 15 shows March 16 in the masthead. The rationale is that the paper reaches its subscribers the next day, by which time the date is correct.
Since 2003 the paper, like many other French newspapers, faced declining readership, which many attributed to the publication of The Hidden Face of Le Monde.
Recent circulation history:
All links retrieved July 26, 2014.
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