Massive Strike at Libération

London – A crisis started last week in the headquarters of Libération, one of France’s main newspapers, and has been ongoing since. Libération is suffering from a growing schism between its staff and shareholders due to the announced plans of major restructuring.

The strike from the staff began after the announcement of a major restructuring plan by major shareholders of the paper to transform it into an online platform and an informational social network. The headquarters in Place de la République would be redesigned (by Philippe Starck) to become a new center of activity and become a cultural center, including a start-up hub with a restaurant and a TV studio. The writing staff would be relocated to the Parisian suburb.

This drastic move has been defended by the shareholders as the only viable option for the newspaper, which has seen its sales consistently decreasing. Its journalists argue in return that the shareholders are attempting to turn the newspaper into a brand, stripping it of its journalistic dimension.

The newspaper was created in 1973, established by Jean-Paul Sartre and evolved through the years to become the major left-wing newspaper in France. Libé, its nickname in France, saw a 15% decrease in its sales last year.

After the announcement of the plan on Friday Feb. 7, the journalists published their arguments the next day directly into the pages of their newspaper.

The dispute has escalated with the rise of tensions from both sides. Bruno Ledoux, one of the key shareholders, angered the redacting staff by calling them “tacky and narrow minded”, as reported by Figaro. The dispute has been escalating for the past week and some fear it could reach a very dangerous point for the future of Libération.

The newest development in the affair is the resigning on Feb. 13 of Nicolas Demorand, the director of Libération since March 2011. Demorand had already received four votes of no confidence in three years from the editorial board. Demorand told Le Monde yesterday  in an interview that he hoped that his resignation would “revive the dialogue needed to take the paper out of the ongoing crisis.”

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  1. […] Massive strike at Libération. A crisis began last week in the headquarters of Libération, one of France’s main newspapers, and has been ongoing since. Libération is suffering from a growing schism between its staff and shareholders due to the announced plans of major restructuring. A staff strike began after the announcement of a restructuring plan by major shareholders to transform it into an online platform and an informational social network. […]

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