Liberty, Equality, Bankruptcy

Two contrasting stories from France this morning draw attention to the state of flux in our industry and its still robust ability to challenge official orthodoxy. 

On the depressing side President Nicholas Sarkozy launches crisis negotations today about the future of the French newspaper industry. Amid plummeting turnover at titles including Le Monde, Liberation and Figaro, the President says "democracy cannot function with a press permanently on the edge of an economic precipice." He is right, but that does not mean Liberty, Equality and Fraternity can be preserved by allowing his friends to extend their media empires. But, just as the picture from Paris looks gloomy, the excellent French satirical title, Le Canard Enchaine, has come up with a gem of a story (without any help from Government). Britain's envoy to Afghanistan, Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles, is alleged to have told a French Diplomat that "the coalition [NATO] presence [in Afghanistan] - particularly the military presence - is part of the problem, not the solution." If you don't read French you can find both stories (properly attributed) in the Guardian www.guardian.co.uk