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France’s communist daily newspaper battles for survival

The French communist newspaper L'Humanite has been forced to appeal to readers on Monday to save it from bankruptcy.

France's communist daily newspaper battles for survival
Photo: AFP

The troubled daily said it was placing itself under the “protection of the people”, and that it was “entering a great battle for survival” just as it was most needed during an era of fake news.

A bankruptcy court hearing in a Paris suburb on Wednesday will decide its future.

With its Italian opposite number, L'Unita, folding two years ago,  editors said they were determined to fight on for “workers, ordinary people, and the 'invisibles'” who keep France going.

Editor Patrick Le Hyaric said the 114-year-old publication had always supported the “thinkers who have questioned the system and the artists who have brought culture” to its highest pinnacles.

But sales slid six percent over the past year to 32,700 copies a day despite a rise in subscriptions.

Le Hyaric told AFP that he would ask the court to make sure the paper keeps publishing even if receivers are called in.

L'Humanite employs 200 people, half of them journalists.

It raised more than one million euros from readers in a few weeks last year after its future was similarly threatened.

But even that injection of cash was not enough to keep the wolves from the door, Le Hyaric said, with “no bank willing to work alongside us”. 

L'Humanite's weak advertising revenues have almost dried up since 2015, the editor said, appealing for greater state support.

The newspaper was founded in 1904 by the legendary French socialist Jean Jaures, but became the official mouthpiece of the French Communist Party (PCF) after 1920.

Banned by the German occupiers during World War II, its heyday was in the 1930s when several hundred thousand copies a day were sold.

It was also an important player in the French postwar press but the decline has mirrored the fading electoral fortunes of the PCF.

In 2008 L'Humanite was forced to sell its headquarters just outside Paris designed by the Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer.

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MEDIA

France slams Belarus’ ‘arbitrary’ crackdown on foreign media

France on Sunday condemned an "arbitrary" crackdown against the media in Belarus after the accreditation of several journalists working for foreign media was withdrawn in the wake of disputed presidential elections.

France slams Belarus' 'arbitrary' crackdown on foreign media
Belarus opposition supporters protesting against disputed presidential elections results in Minsk on August 27. Photo: Sergei Gapon/AFP
“The arbitrary measures taken by the Belarusian authorities against journalists violate press freedom,” Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said in a statement.
   
“I call on the Belarusian authorities to reverse these measures without delay,” he added, saying that the crisis in Belarus requires “the establishment of an inclusive national dialogue”.
   
“Repressive measures against journalists cannot help,” he said.
   
Belarusian authorities on Saturday withdrew the accreditation of journalists working for several foreign media, including AFP, ahead of a major demonstration Sunday challenging the results of the presidential election.
   
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, who has been in power since 1994, has faced unprecedented protests since the disputed August 9 election in which he claimed a landslide victory with 80 percent of the vote in a poll
that the opposition says was rigged.
   
 
Belarus government spokesman Anatoly Glaz said the decision to revoke the media accreditations was taken on the recommendation of the country's counter-terrorism unit.
   
He did not specify how many journalists were affected by the measure, but foreign media including the BBC, Reuters and Radio Liberty reported the withdrawal of accreditation of several of their journalists.
   
Belarusian journalists working for Agence France-Presse also had their accreditation revoked.
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