RSF proposes urgent meeting with French newspaper owner whose journalists are on strike

The secretary-general of Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has proposed an urgent meeting with Arnaud Lagardère – the owner of Journal du Dimanche (JDD), the French Sunday newspaper whose journalists have been on strike for the past five weeks – with the aim of finding an honourable solution to this historic crisis.

The shadow of French billionaire businessman Vincent Bolloré hangs constantly over Lagardère. Bolloré is in the process of taking over the Lagardère Active media group and is clearly behind the controversial changes already taking place within it.

But Arnaud Lagardère is JDD’s current owner and he claims to have taken the recent decisions himself, including the decision that triggered the strike at JDD – the appointment of Geoffroy Lejeune, the former editor of the Valeurs actuelles magazine, as its editor. 

This is why RSF secretary-general Christophe Deloire issued an appeal on the France Inter radio station, calling on Lagardère to create the conditions for the best possible solution to this historic crisis. 

The Lagardère group issued a statement on 24 July announcing that it was breaking off negotiations with the striking journalists and that Lejeune would take over as editor on 1 August. This decision cut short discussion about safeguards for editorial independence, just as legislators have been depositing bills with the French parliament that would establish such safeguards for all the media in France.

“What does Arnaud Lagardère want to leave behind in the history of the French media industry? Does he want to end this crisis in an honourable way or does he want us to remember him as the accomplice or armed wing of a takeover that was dangerous for journalism? We ask him to resume discussions with JDD’s editorial staff on establishing safeguards for editorial independence, as sought by his employees, who have been on strike for five weeks. And we are ready to meet him wherever he chooses.

Christophe Deloire
RSF secretary-general
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