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Last Updated: Thursday, 2 October, 2003, 17:37 GMT 18:37 UK
Le Monde sacks veteran writer
Journalist Daniel Schneidermann
Schneidermann's book is the latest of a number of critical publications

A veteran journalist working for one of France's most prestigious newspapers has been sacked after he published a book critical of its editorial team.

Daniel Schneidermann, 45, a high-profile commentator with his own TV show, was summoned before a disciplinary board earlier in the week.

He was told his book, The Media Nightmare, contravened the French journalists' code of professional conduct, French media say.

The book - mostly a general attack on the country's media - focuses partly on the paper's reaction to an earlier book, The Hidden Face of Le Monde, which contained a number of attacks on the paper's editors.

This decision is exceptional in the history of the newspaper and sets a precedent by creating a kind of thought-crime
CFDT union
Mr Schneidermann says that instead of countering the accusations openly, Le Monde "reacted like a Sicilian clan insulted by the provocation of a rival clan".

But on Thursday, he said he would like to continue working for the daily.

Libel suit

"I wish with all my heart... to stay at Le Monde, and for an in-depth review of our editorial practices to be carried out," he told the AFP news agency.

Journalists' unions criticised the dismissal, which took effect on Thursday.

Centre-left publication, considered highbrow
Famed for austere layout and authoritative reporting
Evening paper - appears at lunchtime in Paris, dated the following day
Founded at time of the liberation from German occupation in 1944 on General Charles de Gaulle's orders
Daily circulation of about 400,000 copies
"This decision is exceptional in the history of the newspaper and sets a precedent by creating a kind of thought-crime," said one of the journalists' unions, the CFDT.

In his book, Mr Schneidermann says he tried to organise a debate between the authors of The Hidden Face of Le Monde, Pierre Pean and Philippe Cohen, and Le Monde's editor-in-chief, Edwy Plenel, on his weekly television discussion show, media reports say.

Mr Plenel reacted furiously, demanding: "We have to know where you stand, Schneidermann. Are you in or out?" according to Mr Schneidermann's book which is being published on Thursday.

The Hidden Face of Le Monde, which went straight into the bestseller lists when it went on sale in March, accused the paper's editorial team of bias, hypocrisy and abuse of political power.

Le Monde launched libel proceedings against the book's authors and publishers earlier this year, and has stuck to a policy of not discussing the matter publicly.

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