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French press review 16 December 2010

It is just a hard copy of the centrist daily Le Monde on Thursday as distributors continue their industrial action for a third day here in Paris, so let's turn to the websites. 

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Business daily Les Echos has a report this morning into the ongoing turmoil in the administrative bowels of Le Monde.

As you might remember, the shareholders at France's paper of record were bought out by private investors a few months back because of the organisation's dire financial situation.

Well, Les Echos reports this morning that the director of the paper Eric Fottorino was fired on Wednesday and replaced by a chap called Louis Dreyfus. Dreyfus was the advisor to one of the new majority shareholders.

The paper cites a difference between the now ex-director and the new owners.

 

The front page of the electronic version of right-leaning Le Figaro leads with the headline, 'The National Front's Offensive Worries the UMP and Socialist Party.'

This comes as the National Front's Marine Le Pen has been fiestily stirring immigration issues as she tours the country gatheruing support for the 2012 presidential election.

The paper says that mainstream parties have turned inwards, questionning whether they should give the leader of the Front the time of day or just ignore her.

Jean-François Copé of the UMP thinks it's a good opportunity to reignite the debate on national identity while his colleague François Baroin thinks they would best steer clear of the issue.

What is becoming incresingly clear is that whether the two big parties like it or not, Marine Le Pen is going to pander to fears over the economy and unemployment by using immigrants as the scapegoat in her party's time-honoured fashion.

It's probably the perfect point at which to look at what the Americans, or at least the country's diplomats, think of the press here in France.

Le Monde reports in a little article on its newly invested WikiLeaks news page that a diplomatic cable from the US embassy in Paris, contains passages like...

"Although the Le Monde newspaper was traditionally anti-American, the paper took a more balanced view following the September 11th attacks in New York."

That was, as some listeners might remember, when the paper's editorial led with the line 'We are all Americans'. Which was indeed a huge break from Le Monde's long standing editorial line.

Another aspect of France's press that the wire highlighted was the proximity between the powers that be and journalists here.

It reads, "The great journalists in France often come from the same universities as many government decision makers. These journalists don't consider their first obligation as a check and balance to power. Many of them, who see themselves as intellectuals, prefer to analyse events and influence their readers rather than report facts."

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The headline on Le Monde today reliably informs us that 43 percent of young men and 37 percent of women are unemployed in what the French call sensitive neighbourhoods.

By sensitive neighbourhoods, they mean the infamous poor suburbs or "les banlieues". In a report released yesterday, the government's 'Observatory for Sensitive Urban Neighbouhoods', said conditions in these areas are just as bad as they were 20 years ago, when France first got a ministry of urban affairs.

High unemployment, high levels of poverty, and a bad track record in education all paint a pretty grim picture of life in les banlieues says Le Monde. It goes on to lament these modern ghettos as 'those corners of France where the republic is at its weakest and least effective.'

On the inside pages of the paper we learn of the ongoing food crisis in the south of Madagascar. Le Monde reports that two years of drought and a non-existent healthcare system is paving the way for a humanitarian crisis there.

A total of 53 towns are in what is described as "food difficulty" this year up from 31 in 2008.

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