First issue on 18 December 1944
|Owner(s)||Groupe Le Monde|
|Headquarters||80 bd Auguste-Blanqui,
F-75707 Paris Cedex 13
Le Monde (French pronunciation: [l? md]; English: The World) is a French daily afternoon newspaper founded by Hubert Beuve-Méry at the request of Charles de Gaulle (as Chairman of the Provisional Government of the French Republic) on 19 December 1944, shortly after the Liberation of Paris, and published continuously since its first edition. It is one of the most important and widely respected newspapers in the world.
It is one of two French newspapers of record along with Le Figaro, and the main publication of La Vie-Le Monde Group. It reported an average circulation of 323,039 copies per issue in 2009, about 40,000 of which were sold abroad. It has had its own website since 19 December 1995, and is often the only French newspaper easily obtainable in non-French-speaking countries. It should not be confused with the monthly publication Le Monde diplomatique, of which Le Monde has 51% ownership, but which is editorially independent.
The paper's journalistic side has a collegial form of organization, in which most journalists are not only tenured, but financial stakeholders in the enterprise as well, and participate in the elections of upper management and senior executives. In the 1990s and 2000s, La Vie-Le Monde Group expanded under editor Jean-Marie Colombani with a number of acquisitions. However, its profitability was not sufficient to cover the large debt loads it took on to fund this expansion, and it sought new investors in 2010 to keep the company out of bankruptcy. In June 2010, investors Matthieu Pigasse, Pierre Bergé, and Xavier Niel acquired a controlling stake in the newspaper.
In contrast to other world newspapers such as The New York Times, Le Monde was traditionally focused on offering analysis and opinion, as opposed to being a newspaper of record. Hence, it was considered less important for the paper to offer maximum coverage of the news than to offer thoughtful interpretation of current events. For instance, on the 10th anniversary of the sinking of the Rainbow Warrior, the newspaper directly implicated François Mitterrand, who was the French president at the time, in the operation. In recent years, however, the paper has established a greater distinction between fact and opinion.
Le Monde was founded in 1944 at the request of General Charles de Gaulle after the German army was driven from Paris during World War II, and took over the headquarters and layout of Le Temps, which was the most important newspaper in France before but whose reputation had suffered during the Occupation. Beuve-Méry reportedly demanded total editorial independence as the condition for his taking on the project.
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 state. The paper endorsed centre-right candidate Édouard Balladur in the 1995 presidential election and Ségolène Royal, the Socialist Party candidate, in the 2007 presidential election.
According to the Mitrokhin Archive investigators, Le Monde (KGB codename VESTNIK, "messenger") was the KGB's key outlet for spreading anti-American and pro-Soviet disinformation to the French media. The archive identified two senior Le Monde journalists and several contributors who were used in the operations (see also the article on Russian influence operations in France).
Michel Legris, a former journalist with the paper, wrote Le Monde tel qu'il est (Le Monde as it is) in 1976. According to him, the journal minimized the atrocities committed by the Cambodian Khmer Rouge.
In their 2003 book titled La Face cachée du Monde (The Hidden face of "Le Monde"), authors Pierre Péan and Philippe Cohen alleged that Colombani and then-editor Edwy Plenel had shown, amongst other things, partisan bias and had 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, the "Irish of Vincennes" affair, and the sinking of a Greenpeace boat, the Rainbow Warrior, by French intelligence under President François Mitterrand). 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.
Le Monde has been found guilty of defamation for saying that Spanish football club FC Barcelona was connected to a doctor involved in steroid use. The Spanish court fined the newspaper nearly $450,000.
In April 2016, a Le Monde reporter was denied visa to visit Algeria as part of the French Prime Minister press convoy to Algeria. Le Monde had previously published names of Algerian officials directly involved with the Panama papers corruption scandal.
Le Monde is published around midday, and the date on the masthead is the following day's. For instance, the issue released at midday on 15 March shows 16 March on the masthead. It is available on newsstands in France on the day of release, and received by mail subscribers on the masthead date. The Saturday issue is a double one, for Saturday and Sunday.
Thus the latest edition can be found on newsstand from Monday to Friday included, while subscribers will receive it from Tuesday to Saturday included.
The building--formerly the headquarters of Air France--was refashioned by Bouygues from the designs of Christian de Portzamparc. The building's façade has an enormous fresco adorned by doves (drawn by Plantu) flying towards Victor Hugo, symbolising freedom of the press.
It will move into a new headquarters, also in the 13th arrondissement, around 2017. It will have space for 1,200 people.