Le Monde, France     

Based: Paris

Founded: 1944

Circulation: 314,000 (2006)

Owner: Le Monde SA, 15% of which is owned by the French conglomerate Lagardere

France's left-of-centre paper of record has always commanded great respect both at home and abroad, but this has not protected it from the profound crisis affecting the whole of the French press. Declining sales figures led to large-scale job-cuts towards the end of 2004, and in February 2005 the media and defence conglomerate Lagardere acquired a 15% stake in return for agreeing to invest 25m euros (17m) in the title. In 2004/2005 Le Monde dipped below its arch-rival Le Figaro in the circulation league table, and in November 2005 it too underwent a redesign. Le Monde now makes much greater use of full-colour photos and graphics - a far cry from the paper's original sober and lofty image.