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France’s Le Monde elects first female editor-in-chief

© AFP

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2013-03-02

Veteran journalist Natalie Nougayrède has been voted editorial director of France’s newspaper of reference Le Monde, becoming the first woman to hold the prestigious position.

France’s newspaper of reference Le Monde on Friday elected a female director and editor-in-chief for the first time in its 68-year history.

Natalie Nougayrède, the candidate put forward by Le Monde’s owners, took 80 per cent of the votes – needing at least 60 per cent - in a ballot by the newspaper’s 450 representative journalists (Société des Rédacteurs du Monde). She will be formally instated at the beginning of March.

The 46-year-old’s nomination follows the untimely death of predecessor Erik Izraelewicz, who suffered a heart attack while working in November 2012. Izraelewicz had won 74 per cent of votes when he was elected in February 2011.

According to Le Monde’s statutes, the director “is completely responsible for the editorial strategy and content ... who must not allow editorial decisions to be governed by the needs of shareholders, management or advertising”.

The challenge of the digital age

Nougayrède has been at Le Monde since 1996, becoming the paper’s correspondent in Ukraine and Russia before coming back to run the paper’s international desk.

In 2005, she was awarded the prestigious Albert-Londres prize for her reports on the Chechen conflict and the Beslan school hostage crisis that resulted in the deaths of 380 people.

She takes the helm at a challenging time for the newspaper, which was founded in December 1944 under the encouragement of wartime leader General Charles de Gaulle.

Average sales have been falling steadily (an average of 325,295 copies a day last year, down 2.17 per cent on the previous year) while viewership of its website has been rising.

Figures for the site – which has a dual system of full access for paying customers and restricted free access for everyone else – show 278 million page views in January, up from 210 million a year earlier, according to France’s official circulations audit group the OJD.

Following her election, Nougayrède told the newspaper’s assembled journalists that she would strive to “maintain standards of excellence” and urged staff to face the “ongoing challenges of the digital age”.

Date created : 2013-03-02

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