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Turbulence rocks two of world’s top journalism institutions Comment on this post ↓
May 15th, 2014 by Warren Swil

Editors’ exits reflect

existential struggles at

Le Monde, The Times

Natalie Nougayrede, managing editor of Le Monde, left after an apparent power struggle with the staff.

THE MEDIA LANDSCAPE on both sides of the Atlantic was roiled this week with simultaneous changes in top editors at two pillars of global journalism.
The most senior editor of the French newspaper Le Monde and also that of The New York Times – both the first women to hold those jobs ­– left amidst acrimony.
The changes signal rough sailing for these bastions of traditional media as they both struggle to make the transition to the digital era.
In an almost eerie similarity, both women were said to be leaving because of poor relationships with their colleagues.

THE NEW YORK TIMES’ abrupt dismissal of Executive Editor Jill Abramson received broad coverage across the media in the US.
The paper announced it on the front page of Thursday’s national edition.
But the simultaneous exit of Natalie Nougayrède, managing editor of Le Monde was relegated deep inside The New York Times in the story Editor of Le Monde Resigns Amid Discord.

The story in the UK paper The Independent on the exit of two editors. Click image to enlarge.

A similar story was more bluntly headlined in the British paper The Guardian in Le Monde editor quits after power struggle with top staff
“Natalie Nougayrède, the first female editor-in-chief of the prestigious French daily Le Monde, has quit after a power struggle with top staff who staged a protest last week over her plans to revamp the newspaper,” The Guardian reported.
 “Last week, seven senior editors stepped down from their posts after disputes over a planned new print format, a tablet edition and disagreements about planned personnel changes.”
The news about the Abramson ax was explained in similarly brutal terms at Politico.
In the story Why Jill Abramson’s departure will ricochet,  John F. Harris and Hadas Gold write about why they think the treatment of Abramson “will ricochet.”
“First is the uncommonly bloody manner of execution. Abramson had drawn criticism for her sometimes harsh personality, but certainly it was no harsher than the treatment handed her by former patrons.”
An execution? Ouch!
The Independent in the UK was similarly brutal about events at Le Monde in Female editors of Le Monde and the New York Times spiked in a single day.
“Ms Nougayrède, 56, who had in recent weeks been accused of “authoritarian” and “Putin-like” tendencies, was forced out after journalists revolted against plans to combine the staff of print and online editions,” the Independent reported.
The overtly sexist nature of much of coverage – especially that of Abramson firing – is hugely regrettable. Focusing on both women’s gender is a red herring.
Both are accomplished journalists with long records of award-winning reporting.
It is no secret that print media – and the expensive, indispensible journalism it supports – is fighting an existential battle for survival. While The Times has made gains in digital revenue, with subscription income now ahead of advertising, it is still facing challenges on many fronts.
So, apparently, is Le Monde, where the transition to digital appears to have been at the core of the dispute.
Friction is inevitable in times of such tumultuous change. The old guard will resist, despite the writing on the wall.
Hopefully the internal squabbles will be a harbinger of better days ahead. The role of both publications in bringing vitally important news to their readers is far too important for distractions like this.

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2 Responses  
  • Martin Trailer writes:
    May 15th, 2014

    Leadership is tough and if the troops have not bought into the ‘new’ vision, then depending on how entrenched the troops are, probability of a revolt of some sort will occur.

    They gotta sell their vision to all and cannot just dictate.

    As the boss, they have a target on their backs.

    • Warren writes:
      May 16th, 2014

      You are absolutely right about the need to “sell” their vision.
      Unfortunately, good selling skills and not usually amongst the qualities sought of reporters and editors in the hiring process.
      This is apparent from the two cases in the news this week.


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