Françoise Lazare

About Françoise Lazare

Françoise Lazare, NF ’98, died on October 15th in Paris, France, after battling a brain tumor discovered during her Nieman year. She was 45.

She had been a reporter with the French daily newspaper Le Monde since 1988. One of her colleagues at Le Monde said Lazare was wearing her Nieman class T-shirt the day before she passed away at the hospital.

Lazare’s first article in Le Monde appeared when she was working as an intern at The Wall Street Journal in New York in 1987. At 22, she was already writing about the collapse of U.S. investment banks. “A passion for news, the quest for information, a taste for faraway places, her independence of mind, devastating wit, and strong character were the engine of what should have been a beautiful course, a successful personal life, and a brilliant journalistic career,” wrote her colleagues at Le Monde in her obituary.

In September 1993 a truck crashed into her car while she was on vacation with a journalist friend in New Iberia, Louisiana. Her friend died at the scene and Lazare spent a week in a coma. A year later, she returned to work, and a few years after that, the tumor appeared.

Lazare graduated from the prestigious Institute of Political Sciences in Paris before studying at Johns Hopkins University in Washington, D.C. It was there that her passion for journalism was born. After six years working for the business section at Le Monde, she joined the foreign affairs desk for three years. This is when “she wrote her best reports, for instance foreseeing before all her colleagues the collapse of the Albanian regime due to the ‘pyramid scheme,’ or co-writing a memorable profile of ‘George Soros, a speculator and a philanthropist,’” the obituary in Le Monde stated.

While fighting the brain tumor, Lazare reported on lifestyle issues, “without ever giving up on what she regularly demanded: the right to ‘live normally,’” her newspaper colleagues wrote. She sailed for a month on a boat-hospital on the Amazon River and traveled deep below the earth’s surface to report on copper mines in Chile.

Since 2009, she had written for Le Monde’s literary section, where she shared her love of foreign literature, including Korean and Albanian authors. She was still working a few days before she died, her newspaper colleagues wrote.

“Aside from her unceasing journalistic activity and a few other passions—like painting—Françoise felt a pressing need to gather her numerous friends regularly,” her obituary stated. “All those who got to know and like her, or who simply came across her, will keep the memory of an excellent journalist and a strong personality, a charming woman, warm and always curious, who never—never—stopped loving life.”

by Thierry Cruvellier, a 2004 Nieman Fellow.