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TypeDaily newspaper
Format Compact
Owner(s)Bruno Ledoux
EditorLibération SARL
Founded1973; 51 years ago (1973)
Political alignment Centre-left
Language French
Headquarters Paris, France
Circulation97,633 (total, 2022) [1]
9,900 (digital, 2018)
ISSN 0335-1793

Libération (French pronunciation: [libeʁasjɔ̃]), popularly known as Libé (pronounced [libe]), is a daily newspaper in France, founded in Paris by Jean-Paul Sartre and Serge July in 1973 in the wake of the protest movements of May 1968. Initially positioned on the far left of France's political spectrum, the editorial line evolved towards a more centre-left stance at the end of the 1970s, [2] where it remains as of 2012. [3]

The publication describes its "DNA" as being "liberal libertarian". It aims to act as a common platform for the diverse tendencies within the French Left, with its "compass" being "the defence of freedoms and of minorities". [4] Edouard de Rothschild's acquisition of a 37% capital interest in 2005, [5] and editor Serge July's campaign for the "yes" vote in the referendum establishing a Constitution for Europe the same year, [6] alienated it from a number of its left-wing readers. [7]

In its early days, it was noted for its irreverent and humorous style and unorthodox journalistic culture. All employees, including management, received the same salary. In addition to traditional editor's notes, known as Note de la rédaction and marked as N.D.L.R., it included the innovative NDLC (note de la claviste), apt and witty comments inserted at the last moment by the typesetter. [8] It was the first French daily to have a website. It had a circulation of about 67,000 in 2018. [9] Libération has been considered a newspaper of record in France. [10]


First period (1973–81)

Libération was founded by Jean-Paul Sartre, Philippe Gavi, Bernard Lallement, Jean-Claude Vernier, Pierre Victor alias Benny Lévy and Serge July and has been published from 3 February 1973, [11] in the wake of the protest movements of May 1968. [12] Sartre remained editor of Libération until 24 May 1974. During this period one of the contributors was Samir Frangieh, a leftist Lebanese journalist. [13]

The paper was initially run along non-hierarchical lines, with all staff – from the editor-in-chief to the janitor – receiving the same salary, but this later gave way to a "normal set-up". In the early 1980s it began to take advertisements and allowed external bodies to have a stake in its financing, which it had completely refused before, but continued to maintain a left leaning [11] editorial stance.

Second period (since 1981)

After several crises, Libération temporarily stopped being published in February 1981. It resumed publication on 13 May under a new format, with Serge July as new director. [14]

Although Libération is not affiliated with any political party, it has, from its theoretical origins in the May 1968 turmoil in France, a left-wing slant. [15] According to co-founder and former director Serge July, Libé was an activist newspaper that, however, does not support any particular political party, acts as a counter-power, and generally has bad relations with both left-wing and right-wing administrations. Libé's opinion pages (rebonds) publish views from many political standpoints. An example of their proclaimed independent, "counter-power" slant is when in 1993 Libération leaked Socialist president François Mitterrand's illegal wiretapping program.

Libération is known for its sometimes alternative points of view on cultural and social events. For instance, in addition to reports about crimes and other events, it also chronicles daily criminal trials, bringing in a more human vision of petty criminals. As Serge July puts it, "the equation of Libération consisted in combining counter-culture and political radicalism". [16] The editors' decision, in 2005, to support the Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe (TCE) was criticized by many of its readers, who later decided to vote "no" to a treaty seen as too neoliberal, lacking social views deemed necessary to the solid foundation of a "European nation".

On 11 December 2010, Libération started hosting a mirror of the WikiLeaks website, including the United States diplomatic cables and other document collections, [17] in solidarity with WikiLeaks, in order to prevent it from being "suffocated" by "governments and companies that were trying to block [WikiLeaks'] functioning without even a judicial decision". [18]

In June 2015, Libération, working with WikiLeaks, reported that the United States National Security Agency had been secretly spying on the telephone conversations of presidents Jacques Chirac, Nicolas Sarkozy and François Hollande from at least 2006 through 2012. [19] [20]

Édouard de Rothschild's involvement

In 2005 Libération badly needed funds, [21] and Serge July strove to convince the board to allow Édouard de Rothschild [21] to buy a stake in the paper. The board agreed on 20 January 2005. Social conflicts arose shortly after. On 25 November 2005, the paper went on strike, protesting against the layoff of 52 workers. [22] Rothschild, who had promised he would not interfere in editorial decisions, decided that he was not playing an active enough role in the paper's management. [23] In May 2006 the paper announced a weekend magazine called Libé week-end, with a supplement called Ecrans (covering television, internet and film), and another called R. (The latter was abandoned in September of the same year.)

On 13 June 2006, Serge July told the editorial staff that Édouard de Rothschild was refusing to invest more money in the paper unless Louis Dreyfus (directeur général) and himself left the paper. July had accepted, believing the paper's future existence to depend on his decision. The journalists were shocked. The next day, they published a public statement praising the paper's founder and expressing their worries about journalistic independence. [24] Serge July left the paper on 30 June 2006. [25]

A debate between Bernard Lallement, the first administrator-manager of Libération and Edouard de Rothschild took place in Le Monde newspaper. In a column published on 4 July 2006, Lallement argued that July's departure was the end of an era where "writing meant something". Lallement painted a bleak picture of Libération's future, as well as that of the press as a whole. Criticizing Rothschild's interference, Lallement quoted Sartre, who had famously said that "Money doesn't have any ideas". [26] Later, on his blog, Lallement argued that Rothschild, who had had no historic attachment to the paper, was only interested in making money, not in the paper itself. [27] On 6 July, Rothschild declared: "Libération needs help and moral, intellectual and financial support. Libération doesn't need a requiem." [28]

Sixty-two employees—including 35 journalists, such as Antoine de Gaudemar, chief editor, Sorj Chalandon, who was awarded the Albert Londres Prize, both present since the 1973 creation of Libé, and Pierre Haski, deputy editor, present since 1981—were about to resign at end of January 2007 (on a total of 276 employees). With the 55 other employees who left the newspaper at the end of 2005, this made a total of about 150 staff who had left since Rothschild's ownership, not including tens of resignations (including Florence Aubenas, Dominique Simonnot, Antoine de Baecque, Jean Hatzfeld) [29]

In May 2007, former Libération journalists, including Pierre Haski and Pascal Riché (Op-Ed editor of Libération) created the news website Rue 89.

In 2014, the newspaper once again found itself in the news, following a public dispute between its journalists and shareholders over the future of the newspaper. In the face of falling circulation the latter had sought to re-invent the paper's web site as a social network. The editor-in-chief Nicolas Demorand resigned over the row. [30]

Liberation's circulation figures have under-performed compared to other French newspapers in the 21st century

Circulation statistics

Year 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2006 2005 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020
France paid circulation 169,427 169,011 174,310 164,286 158,115 146,109 133,270 142,557 132,356 123,317 111,584 113,108 119,205 119,418 101,616 93,781 88,395 73,331 75,275 67,238 71,522 76,522

See also


  1. ^ "Libération − History". Alliance pour les chiffres de la presse et des médias (in French). n.d. Archived from the original on 26 June 2023. Retrieved 26 June 2023.
  2. ^ "Évaluation Libération" (in French). Archived from the original on 4 September 2019. Retrieved 31 January 2020.
  3. ^ "French press rallies behind new President Hollande". BBC. 7 May 2012. Archived from the original on 3 January 2015. Retrieved 22 November 2014.
  4. ^ ""Libération" et son rapport à la gauche" (in French). Libération. 13 March 2014. Archived from the original on 31 January 2020. Retrieved 31 January 2020.
  5. ^ ""Libération" tombe sous le charme d'Edouard de Rothschild" (in French). Acrimed. 31 January 2005. Archived from the original on 20 December 2010. Retrieved 30 December 2010.
  6. ^ "L'éditorial de Serge July". Le Nouvel Observateur (in French). 25 June 2008.
  7. ^ "Un " cri de douleur " de Serge July" (in French). Les Mots Sont Importants. June 2005. Archived from the original on 17 December 2010. Retrieved 30 December 2010.
  8. ^ "NDLC (note de la claviste)" (in French). Le Monde. 24 June 2011. Archived from the original on 31 January 2020. Retrieved 31 January 2020.
  9. ^ "ACMP". Archived from the original on 9 April 2019. Retrieved 29 April 2019. French NGO responsible for surveying newspaper circulation
  10. ^ Bryant, Elizabeth (27 October 2006). "A capital crisis may bring down leftist French paper / Liberation, founded in 1968, has seen circulation plummet". San Francisco Chronicle. Archived from the original on 25 February 2017. Retrieved 21 June 2023.
  11. ^ a b "Media Landscape Media Claims" (PDF). European Social Survey. May 2014. Archived from the original (PDF) on 16 August 2014. Retrieved 12 January 2015.
  12. ^ John Tebbel (2003). "Print Media. France". Encyclopedia Americana. Archived from the original on 9 May 2019.
  13. ^ Who's Who in Lebanon (19th ed.). Beirut: Publitec Publications. 2007. p. 132. doi: 10.1515/9783110945904.476. ISBN  978-3-598-07734-0.
  14. ^ Philip Thody (2000). Le Franglais: Forbidden English, Forbidden American: Law, Politics and Language in Contemporary France: A Study in. A&C Black. p. 290. ISBN  978-1-4411-7760-5. Retrieved 31 December 2014.
  15. ^ Interviews with journalists from Libération Archived 26 May 2005 at the Wayback Machine (in French)
  16. ^ Interview with Serge July (on official French government website) (in French)
  17. ^ "Secret US Embassy Cables". Libération. 4 January 2011. Archived from the original on 28 December 2010. Retrieved 11 January 2011.
  18. ^ ""Libération" abrite WikiLeaks". Libération (in French). 11 December 2010. Archived from the original on 15 January 2011. Nous avons choisi d'empêcher l'asphyxie de WikiLeaks à l'heure où des gouvernements et des entreprises cherchent à bloquer son fonctionnement sans même une décision de justice.
  19. ^ Guiton, Amaelle; Léchenet, Alexandre; Manach, Jean-Marc; Assange, Julian (23 June 2015). "WikiLeaks – Chirac, Sarkozy, et Hollande : trois présidents sur écoute". Libération (in French). Archived from the original on 24 June 2015. Retrieved 24 June 2015.
  20. ^ Willsher, Kim (23 June 2015). "François Hollande calls emergency meeting after WikiLeaks claims US spied on three French presidents". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 24 June 2015. Retrieved 24 June 2015.
  21. ^ a b "The press in France". BBC. 11 November 2006. Archived from the original on 15 November 2020. Retrieved 22 November 2014.
  22. ^ Libération ? Un cas d’école pour la presse française Archived 22 June 2006 at the Wayback Machine, L'Humanité, 26 May 2006 (in French)
  23. ^ Les raisons d'un divorce Archived 29 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine, Le Figaro, 14 June 2006 (in French)
  24. ^ Depuis trente-trois ans, Serge July, cofondateur de «Libération».... Archived 17 June 2006 at the Wayback Machine, Libération, 14 June 2006 (in French)
  25. ^ " Pourquoi je quitte "Libération" " ; Serge July; Libération; 30 June 2006

    « The orchestral conductor that I was bids you farewell.
    The journalist who I am is infinitely sad no longer to be able to write here.
    The reader that I shall remain bids you good-bye. »

    ( article en ligne Archived 24 November 2006 at the Wayback Machine)
  26. ^ Une complainte pour Libé Archived 5 July 2006 at the Wayback Machine; Le Monde 4 July 2006
  27. ^ Libé : un paradoxe très cavalier Archived 8 August 2006 at the Wayback Machine 6 July 2006
  28. ^ Libération n'a pas besoin de requiem Archived 19 July 2006 at the Wayback Machine ; Le Monde 6 July 2006
  29. ^ "Libération" : 62 candidats au départ Archived 27 January 2007 at the Wayback Machine, Le Monde, 23 January 2007 –. Retrieved 23 January 2007 (in French)
  30. ^ "Liberation newspaper boss quits over restructuring row". BBC. 13 February 2014. Archived from the original on 25 October 2014. Retrieved 22 November 2014.

External links