The Economist reports that Xavier Niel, the Internet billionaire who is one of the owners of Le Monde, will try to break the Syndicat du Livre, the printers' union that he holds responsible for the paper's uniquely high print costs and late delivery in the provinces. For The Economist, the shining example that Niel is following was set by Rupert Murdoch, of all people, in the UK in the 1980s. This might seem an ill-chosen moment to follow Murdoch's lead, given where he has ended up, but the situation at Le Monde is dire, or so they tell us. Yet it has also been announced recently that The New York Times has managed to pay back its debt to Carlos Slim early and has been doing rather well with its new paywall formula. Why bust the union to reach the provinces a day sooner when provincial readers eager for the news can read it on the Internet? Is Niel--who, as an Internet billionaire, surely knows how technology has changed people's reading habits--chasing the wrong quarry? And if so, why? What's really going on at Le Monde? Somehow the definitive story of the paper's travails seems to elude all French journalists--even the intrepid Edwy Plenel, who must know a thing or two about the finances of his former employer. Mediapart ought to lay off Christine Lagarde for a while--today's story really is a sad example of indictment by analogy--and look into Xavier Niel.
UPDATE: Arun Kapil sees it differently.