Journalists at the Journal du Dimanche (JDD) voted to go on strike, the first time this has happened in the paper’s 75-year existence.
The nomination of Geoffroy Lejeune, whose far-right publication was convicted of publishing racial hate speech during his term as editor-in-chief, prompted the walkout. It is commonly believed that Vincent Bolloré, a French billionaire and notorious business raider, was behind Lejeune’s selection. There was a letter sent by eight ex-editors of the JDD condemning the appointment as “provocation and proof that the far right is taking hold of the media.” As part of a larger fight for press freedom, the harassed newsroom has pleaded with President Emmanuel Macron to intervene in the dispute at the JDD. Immigration, criminality, Islamism, and the distress of white men are regular features in the publication.
According to detractors, Lejeune’s nomination undermines the paper’s reputation for objectivity and journalistic rigor and its status as an opinion publication. The Journal du Dimanche (JDD) has a large readership in France, averaging over 140,000 copies weekly.
For decades, the paper’s monopoly as the sole statewide Sunday edition has made it the go-to venue for politicians promoting new legislation, ballot initiatives, or election campaigns. The JDD is the latest addition to Bolloré’s media holdings, including television networks, magazines including Paris Match and Europe 1, and radio stations across Europe and Africa.
Bolloré instigated the longest strike in the company’s history in 2016, lasting 31 days, and transformed it into a conservative platform known as “France’s Fox News.”
As with “other media organizations taken over by Bolloré,” the crisis at the JDD is an “aftershock.” Academics, politicians, and celebrities are increasingly worried about his purportedly ideological goals, and many of them have expressed sympathy for the strike action at France’s primary Sunday daily.
One of the main gripes about the takeover is not that the right has a newspaper but that it took over an existing one with its own values and history.
That is an odd comment from the left, who seek to change anything it can that has its own values and history, including an entire country.