PARIS– France's iconic daily newspaper, Le Monde – think New York Times, in French – has announced this week that it is partnering strategically with The Huffington Post Media Group.The goal, site co-founder Arianna Huffington said in an interview in Le Monde is to adapt the American site to a French market, mixing both French culture and international issues to create Le Huffington Post.
The merger comes on the heels of the controversial acquisition of the Huffington Post by AOL earlier this year. Despite the questionable journalistic integrity of the American site, France’s most important daily is hoping to develop the French online audience created by its interactive, but largely unsuccessful citizen journalism endeavor LePost.fr in addition to recovering from a period of financial turmoil.
Valerie Jeanne-Perrier, assistant professor at the Sorbonne University's journalism institute, CELSA, attended Arianna Huffington's conference this past Monday in Paris. She said that journalists' reactions were mostly positive, but there is anticipation over exactly how the French version of the Huffington Post will function and whether LePost.fr will disappear or not.
"The alliance will also help the French understand how Americans manage online content of a site, because that's something we haven't mastered as well," Jeanne-Perrier said.
Arianna Huffington assured that a French editorial team would tend to the site. "It will be entirely run by French journalists. It will be rooted in the French culture," she told the AFP.
French bloggers and journalists participate actively in citizen journalism on sites like Agoravox, but celebrity blogging is less popular.Still, France is no stranger to tabloids and celebrity culture, with a slew of tabloid magazines available at newsstands.Le Monde, France's newspaper of reference, does not rank among them.The daily was created in 1944 by future president General Charles de Gaulle to restore the French press after the German occupation.
Despite the disparity in reputation, Jeanne-Perrier is optimistic about the merger."I think it’s a winning move for both sides," Jeanne-Perrier said."It will allow Le Monde to rebrand their interactive site."
Le Huffington Post is expected to appear in November, though no names have been pitched yet for editorial positions.Overall success, according to Jeanne-Perrier, will be determined by the strategy negotiated between Arianna Huffington and the editors of Le Monde.
"We’ll see how the editor manages to connect the blogosphere with French culture.His or her personality will be a determining factor in the site’s success," Jeanne-Perrier said.
The Huffington Post already has international versions in Canada and Britain.After France, the group is looking towards Brazil, Spain, Italy, and Turkey to make the free, participatory news site a veritable global brand.
Photo: Siegfried Forster, RF1
This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com