Bilingual ex-Le Monde editor moves to Guardian

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The Local/AFP - [email protected]
Bilingual ex-Le Monde editor moves to Guardian

Four months after a newsroom rebellion prompted her departure from Le Monde, Natalie Nougayrède, the French newspaper’s former editor-in-chief, has secured a new job with the Guardian.


Nougayrède was the first ever woman to serve as editor-in-chief of France’s left-leaning newspaper of record, a job she held for just over a year until she announced her departure in May. A week earlier, seven disillusioned editors resigned en masse over her management style, plunging the paper into a deep crisis.

She will start her new job on October 1st as a columnist, leader writer and foreign affairs correspondent, Guardian News & Media said in a statement on Tuesday.

Editor-in-chief Alan Rusbridger said Nougayrède, who is bilingual in English and French, would increase the Guardian’s “focus on European affairs, and will play a central role in broadening and growing the Guardian’s coverage, influence and reach across the globe.”

Nougayrède said she was “thrilled to join such a prestigious team at the Guardian,” adding that “at a time when there is so much need for a rich European debate, I am happy to contribute to the discussion on where our nations and societies are headed, what values and interests they share, and how they can best cooperate.”

As she makes the move across the English Channel, Nougayrède will presumably hope to avoid the stormy atmosphere that plagued the end of her time at Le Monde. In a letter in May announcing her resignation, she said:

“The will of certain members of Le Monde to drastically reduce the authority of the editor-in-chief is for me incompatible with the pursuit of my mission,” adding she no longer had “the means to carry out, fully and in peace, my duties.”

Her resignation came just a week after seven of 11 of the paper’s top editors quit simultaneously over perceived editorial management missteps, which they said were stopping them doing their work properly. An added challenge has been the paper's struggle, like many print publications, to find its footing in the digital era. 

A source at the paper said it was "exhausting" working under a management they said never communicates, takes decisions without consulting senior editors and fails to respond to simple organizational requests. 

One of the key bones of contention sprung up in February this year, when Nougayrède announced plans to combine the paper’s print and web staff, a move that would mean changes for more than 50 jobs.

Her departure was a severe turnabout from a year before. Under Le Monde’s byzantine rules for appointing someone to the top editing job, Nougayrède was voted in by 80 percent of the staff, a sign that she was well liked.

She won the top job after the previous top editor, Erik Izraelewicz, had a heart attack in the newspaper’s offices and died.

Nougayrède, who is bilingual after growing up partly in Britain and Canada, had previously worked as a correspondent for Libération newspaper and the BBC’s French service in eastern Europe. She joined Le Monde in 2001 to cover the same region.

She was so good at her work that in 2005 she won the Prix Albert Londres, France's equivalent of the Pulitzer prize, for her coverage of the Beslan siege and the Chechen conflict. She later hung up her foreign correspondent boots and became the paper’s Paris-based diplomatic correspondent.



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