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Along with Le Figaro and Liberation, one of three major daily newspapers in France. Its daily circulation is 416,774, the largest among its kind in the nation. The influential paper includes liberal editorials that often take a critical stance on the United States’ foreign policy, which have caused some Americans to call it “Al-Jazeera on the Seine”. The political cartoons are worth checking out as well.

The paper was created in 1944 after the French Liberation from Nazi Germany. General Charles de Gaulle wanted a paper of record to replace the defunct Le Temps. The first issue was printed on December 18, 1944, but due to the paper shortage, was only a two-sided, large piece of paper. Its editorialist view on the United States did not begin with Iraq, but rather in 1951, when the paper’s editorial board fought over the newspaper’s neutral stance after running an editorial dealing with the Soviet Union titled “Western Europe cannot do without the United States, but is should it not hand over its destiny to them.” Le Monde’s Director, Hubert Beuve-Méry turned the paper into a collective with all members of the editorial board having a say in the paper’s decisions.

Perhaps most impressive has been the connection between the French people and the newspaper and its concurrent tumultuous relationship with the government. In 1956, after running an editorial critical of the ruling government, the paper’s requests to raise its price was denied. Readers reacted to this news by buying several copies each. The newspaper continued to exercise its criticism of the government, particularly in the late 1950’s, when evidence emerged revealing the atrocities committed by the French against the Algerian people. A commission for individual rights in Algeria published a dossier that, despite court orders seeking otherwise, was published by the paper in 1960, in an event that can be seen as the French equivalent of the New York Times’ publication of the Pentagon Papers some years later. In May 1968, during the legendary strike of workers and students, Le Monde continue to put out a daily edition containing editorials from the strike’s leaders and their views on how to make society more just. They were able to distribute the paper only with the help of volunteers, making it once again the definitive source for news.

Sources: http://www.lemonde.fr and my obscure francophilic mind

(Unofficial Node Rescue)

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