French Journalists Call Off Strike, Failing to Block ‘Far-Right’ Editor

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Journalists at France’s main Sunday newspaper introduced Tuesday that they had been ending one of many longest media strikes in latest French historical past, however they predicted that dozens would possibly resign to protest the appointment of an editor with a far-right monitor file as the brand new editor in chief.

The employees of Le Journal du Dimanche, recognized for its interviews with authorities leaders and largely centrist coverage evaluation, stated it had determined to name off a 40-day walkout after it grew to become clear that the paper’s soon-to-be new proprietor, the French billionaire Vincent Bolloré, wouldn’t rescind the appointment. Employees members stated that they had little alternative however to work with the brand new management or depart their jobs.

The brand new editor, Geoffroy Lejeune, who previously led a far-right French journal that was fined for publishing racist insults, was scheduled to take up his new publish on Tuesday. Phrase of his appointment at The JDD, because the paper is thought, had ignited a firestorm in French media and political circles, elevating issues {that a} main mainstream information outlet might be remodeled right into a right-wing platform. Earlier than the uproar, about 100 journalists labored on the Paris paper.

“Immediately, Geoffroy Lejeune takes workplace. He’ll enter an empty newsroom,” the JDD journalists’ union stated in an announcement. “Dozens of journalists are refusing to work with him and can depart The JDD.”

Mr. Lejeune was fired final yr by Valeurs Actuelles, a right-leaning journal, in a dispute over its editorial path.Credit score…Joel Saget/Agence France-Presse — Getty Pictures

The paper has been absent from newsstands for six weeks — solely the second time it has missed publication in its 75-year historical past — since journalists walked out in mid-June after Mr. Lejeune was abruptly appointed simply forward of Mr. Bolloré’s takeover. This summer season, Mr. Bolloré is about to safe a majority stake in Lagardère Group, a conglomerate that owns The JDD and Paris Match journal.

In an announcement, the Lagardère Group stated the weekly print editions would resume publication in mid-August.

The journalists’ union stated Mr. Lejeune’s backing of a right-leaning editorial line, together with anti-immigrant language and assist for the far-right author and presidential candidate Éric Zemmour, mirrored values that had been “in whole contradiction with these of the JDD.” Mr. Lejeune, 34, has not issued any public statements aside from a quick Twitter message saying he was honored to take the helm. The correct-leaning journal Valeurs Actuelles fired him final yr amid dispute with the proprietor over editorial path.

The drama at The JDD revived longstanding issues over press freedom in a rustic the place over four-fifths of privately owned newspapers and TV and radio stations are owned by French or international billionaires or financiers.

After quite a few protests by JDD journalists and a letter of assist signed by a whole lot of lecturers, economists, cultural figures and left-leaning politicians, Parliament is contemplating a measure that might permit journalists at newspapers that acquired authorities subsidies, corresponding to The JDD, to have a say over the selection of editor in chief. President Emmanuel Macron additionally introduced a collection of public hearings in September on the best way to strengthen press independence.

The JDD’s direct proprietor, the Lagardère conglomerate, which basically studies to Mr. Bolloré, stated it alone had the proper to put in a brand new editor.

The episode drew contemporary consideration to Mr. Bolloré, a politically related industrialist who is usually described as France’s Rupert Murdoch. He hails from traditionalist Catholic circles in Brittany and has been steadily constructing a conservative media empire, anchored by a Fox Information-style community, CNews. A number of mainstream information retailers that he has purchased have been remodeled into right-leaning platforms, with longtime journalists swept out and changed with new editorial strains that analysts say align with Mr. Bolloré’s political convictions.

The journalists’ union stated a majority of JDD’s employees members had been more likely to depart. Some, it stated, are forming an affiliation to push for adjustments in France’s legislative framework governing the press, “with a view to assure the independence of editorial employees and the safety of journalists within the train of their occupation.”

“Immediately we misplaced a battle, however our combat is just not over,” the union added in its assertion. “On the finish of this historic strike, we draw this conclusion: Confronted with the facility of shareholders, journalists can solely depend on the legislation.”

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