Respected French daily Le Monde faced a management crisis on Wednesday after journalists rejected the owners' candidate for editorial director, a year after the first woman to hold the position resigned.
In a vote Wednesday evening, the paper's current editorial second-in-command, Jerome Fenoglio, failed to garner the 60 percent of votes among staff needed to secure the job.
The 46-year-old longtime Le Monde reporter, who was nominated to succeed acting editorial director Gilles van Kote by Le Monde's three businessmen owners -- industrialist Pierre Berge, telecoms billionaire Xavier Niel and banker Mathieu Pigasse -- fell five points short of the tally.
"Jerome Fenoglio will not be Le Monde's new director," the paper announced in a headline on its website.
Fenogli's nomination for the job came as a surprise in April, as he was not among the three candidates to throw their hats in the ring by the deadline for applications.
Van Kote, who had been acting editorial director since Natalie Nougayrede resigned in May 2014 after just a year in the job, had been the favourite to succeed her.
In a unanimous declaration Wednesday the journalists signalled their "disapproval of the way in which the shareholders behaved".
Le Monde has gone through five editorial directors in the five years since the paper was rescued from the brink of bankruptcy by Berge, Pigasse and Niel.
"It's a power struggle between the journalists and the shareholders," one Le Monde reporter told AFP.
"We had (in Fenoglio) someone who knew the ropes and was competent. And to show that we are independent from the shareholders we endanger the future of the newsroom," another journalist at the paper complained.
Like many newspapers, the centre-left Le Monde is battling falling sales. The paper had an average daily circulation of 280,556 in March, down 6,000 in a year.
On Monday, the venerable afternoon daily broke with seven decades of tradition to launch a morning publication.
La Matinale, as the morning edition is known, is only available on the Internet.