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Libération (affectionately known as Libé) is a Frenchmarker daily newspaper founded in Parismarker in 1973 by Jean-Paul Sartre, Philippe Gavi, Bernard Lallement and Jean-Claude Vernier, Pierre Victor alias Benny Lévy and Serge July in the wake of the protest movements of May 1968. Broadly speaking, Libération's editorial point of view is currently center-left. Originally a leftist newspaper, it has undergone a number of shifts, in particular during the 1980s and 1990s, and, more recently, since Edouard de Rothschild's entrance in its capital (37%) in January 2005 . Serge July's campaign for the "yes" vote in the referendum on the TCE (Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe) alienated it from a number of its left-wing readers. As of 2007, it has a circulation of about 140,000. Libé was also the first French daily to have a website.


First period (1973-1981)

Libération was founded by Jean-Paul Sartre and has been published from 3 February 1973. Sartre remained editor of Libération until May 24, 1974.

The paper was initially run along non-hierarchical lines, with all staff – from the editor-in-chief to the janitor – receiving the same salary, but this later gave way to a "normal set-up". In the early 1980s it began to take advertisements and allowed external bodies to have a stake in its financing, which it had completely refused before, but continued to maintain a left-of-centre editorial stance.

Second period (1981 to present)

After several crises, Libération temporarily stopped being published in February 1981. It resumed publication on May 13 under a new format, with Serge July as new director.

Libération has a decidedly self-described progressive editorial line, generally supportive of causes such as anti-racism, feminism, and workers' rights. Although it is not affiliated with any political party, it has, from its theoretical origins in the May 1968 turmoil in France, a left-wing slant . According to co-founder and former director Serge July, Libé was an activist newspaper that, however, does not support any particular political party, acts as a counter-power, and generally has bad relations with both left-wing and right-wing administrations. Libé's opinion pages (''rebonds'') publish views from many political standpoints. An example of their proclaimed independent, "counter-power" slant is when in 1993 Libération leaked former [[French Socialist Party|Socialist]] president [[François Mitterrand]]'s illegal wiretapping program. ''Libé'' is known for its sometimes alternative points of view on cultural and social events. For instance, in addition to reports about crimes and other events, it also chronicles daily criminal trials, bringing in a more human vision of petty criminals. As Serge July puts it , "the equation of ''Libération'' consisted in combining counter-culture and political radicalism" [ Interview with Serge July] (on official French government website) {{fr icon}} . Critics contend, however, that this radicalism has largely receded since the 1970s and that ''Libé'' is no longer a truly left-wing newspaper. The editors' decision, in 2005, to support the [[Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe]] (TCE) was criticized by many of its readers, who later decided to vote "no" to a treaty seen as too [[liberalism|liberal]], lacking social views deemed necessary to the solid foundation of a "European nation". === Édouard de Rothschild's involvement === In 2005 ''Libération'' badly needed funds, and Serge July strove to convince the board to allow [[Édouard de Rothschild]] to buy a stake in the paper. The board agreed on 20 January, 2005. Social conflicts arose shortly after. On 25 November, 2005, the paper went on [[Strike action|strike]], protesting [[layoff]]s of 52 workers. [ Libération ? Un cas d’école pour la presse française], ''[[L'Humanité]]'', May 26, 2006 {{fr icon}} . Rothschild, who had promised he would not interfere in editorial decisions, decided that he wasn't playing an active enough role in the paper's management.[ Les raisons d'un divorce], ''[[Le Figaro]]'', June 14, 2006 {{fr icon}} . In May 2006 the paper announced a week-end magazine called ''Libé week-end'', with a supplement called ''Ecrans'' (covering television, internet and film), and another called ''R''. (The latter was abandoned in September of the same year) On 13 June 2006, Serge July told the editorial staff that Édouard de Rothschild was refusing to invest more money in the paper unless Louis Dreyfus (directeur général) and himself left the paper. July had accepted, believing the paper's future existence to depend on his decision. The journalists were shocked. The next day, they published a public statement praising the paper's founder and expressing their worries about journalistic independence.[ Depuis trente-trois ans, Serge July, cofondateur de «Libération»....], ''Libération'', June 14, 2006 {{fr icon}} . Serge July left the paper on 30 June, 2006« Pourquoi je quitte "Libération" » ; Serge July ; Libération ; 30 juin 2006
« ''The orchestral conductor that I was bids you farewell.
''The journalist who I am is infinitely sad no longer to be able to write here.
''The reader that I shall remain bids you good-bye.'' »
([ article en ligne]). A debate between [[Bernard Lallement]], the first administrator-manager of ''Libération'' and Edouard de Rothschild took place in ''[[Le Monde]]'' newspaper. In a column published on 4 July, 2006, Lallement argued that July's departure was the end of an era where "writing meant something". Lallement painted a bleak picture of ''Libération'''s future, as well as that of the press as a whole. Criticizing Rothschild's interference, Lallement quoted Sartre, who had famously said that "Money doesn't have any ideas",. Later, on his blog, Lallement argued that Rothschild, who had had no historic attachment to the paper, was only interested in making money, not in the paper itself. On 6 July, Rothschild declared: "Libération needs help and moral, intellectual and financial support. Libération doesn't need a requiem."

Sixty-two employees (including 35 journalists, such as Antoine de Gaudemar, chief editor, Sorj Chalandon, who was awarded the Albert Londres prize, both present since the 1973 creation of Libé, or Pierre Haski, deputy editor, present since 1981, were about to resign end of January 2007 (on a total of 276 employees). With the 55 others employees who left the newspaper end of 2005, this makes a total of about 150 persons who were dismissed since Rothschild's entrance to the capital, not including tens of resignations (Florence Aubenas, Dominique Simonnot, Antoine de Baecque, Jean Hatzfeld...)

In May 2007, former Libération journalists, including Pierre Haski or Pascal Riché (Op-Ed editor of Libération) created the news website Rue 89.

Circulation statistics

Year 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2004-2005
Circulation 169 427 169 011 171 551 164 286 158 115 146 109 140 334

See also


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