Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Le Monde releases iPad tribute to Stéphane Hessel

The French daily newspaper has launched a unique new tablet app, Hessel, L'éternel indigné (Hessel, The Eternal indignant).

The new tablet app is dedicated to the memory and writings of Stéphane Hessel who died on february 27 at the age of 95. Hessel was a diplomat, writer and concentration camp survivor. During World War II, following the defeat to Germany, Hessel fled to London and joined the Resistance. Hessel returned to France where he helped organize the communications networks to prepare for the Allied invasion. He was eventually captured by the Germans, sent to the Buchenwald and Dora concentration camps, and was tortured by waterboarding.

After the war Hessel became a diplomat and a human rights advocate. He also wrote essays, the last of which is set to be published this month: Don’t Give Up: In the Trenches with the Spanish for Liberty and Progress.

The new iPad app contains the full text of Indignez-vous! (Time for Outrage!), Hessels essay about the growing gap in France between the poor and the wealthy, the need for a free press and the need to protect France's welfare system. There are also documentary images from filmmaker Tony Gatlif.

(See this article from The Nation on the essay, as well as the extraordinary life lived.)

The app is, in essence, a very modern tribute to Hessel and an interesting new direction for Le Monde within the App Store. The app cost $6.99 in the the U.S., 5,99 € in France. The app was placed in the News category, and does not support Newsstand because of its single issue mission.

The appearance of this new iPad gives one hope that Le Monde is turning the page when it comes to its mobile and tablet publishing strategy which has been, to say the least, disappointing. The newspaper has a pretty poorly received main universal app, as well as some replica editions for Le Monde diplomatique through Exact Editions. If Le Monde wants to appeal to a new generation of readers it will certainly have to start thinking about the new platforms in a new way – this is a pretty good start.