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French press review 8 May 2014

4 min

Le Monde becomes the news as editors give their bosses an ultimatum. The US and France offer help searching for kidnapped Nigerian schoolgirls. Toshiba shows interest in Alstom.


Yesterday's press review prediction of the demise of Le Monde was greatly exaggerated, as Mark Twain is famously alleged to have said of reports that he was dead. (He didn't, but he is now, so stop nit-picking).

Dossier: Sharia wars - Boko Haram v the military in northern Nigeria

Journalists at the centrist newspaper have given their bosses one week from yesterday to come back with real answers to a series of questions about how the paper is being managed.

Seven of the daily's 11 editors resigned earlier this week, citing a breakdown in confidence and communication with the paper's director. One major bone of contention seems to be a management plan to reassign some print journalists to the paper's website. There's a broader debate about how Le Monde should adjust to the changing environment for print newspapers in a digital world.

The printed edition of today's Le Monde gives pride of place to the nightmare abduction of over 200 schoolgirls in Nigeria by Boko Haram insurgents. The first mass abduction dates from the middle of April, so why is the world only now waking up to what has always been an outrageous affront to law, decency and democracy? The sad answer is that it has taken American interest in the fate of the kidnapped children to get them onto the world's front pages.

Since it is now clear that the Nigerian security forces are incapable of searching the vast forest on the border with Cameroon, where it is believed the girls are being held, Washington has offered military help. Paris has also offered the services of a specialist team which usually gets involved in incidents involving French hostages.

Dossier: Eurozone in crisis

Sadly, unconfirmed claims from locals in Borno State suggest that many of the girls have already been sold as "brides" to Islamist fighters holed up in Cameroon and Chad. The cavalry may, once again, arrive too late.

On the Le Monde website (just to show that we take no sides in the current dispute between management and staff), the main story reports that the Japanese engineering company Toshiba has decided to get involved in the bidding war for the French energy and transport operation, Alstom. The Japanese say they will buy the energy part of the operation back from General Electric, should the American company finally succeed with its overall offer, the biggest industrial investment in history according to the knowledgeable lads at ratings agency Standard & Poor's.

Not only will that news boost General Electric's bid, by giving them a chance to get some of their cash investment back immediately but it's also positive for the French industrial environment, suggesting that the country is going down the gurgler less dramatically that certain grumblers would insist.

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