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I'm sorry but this is nothing but extreme-left anarchistic standpoints :

the 14th of July exercise is a ritualised press-conference where the president "answers" questions. It's not very different from some WH press-conferences. It's supposed to be softball. Try to ask a nasty question to a US president and you'll never be invited again. Besides Chirac does other press conferences, often abroad and does "answer" questions even from French journalists covering the event. As all presidents do. It's the name of the game in many (all?) countries (even in Nordic countries) so what is the "real journalist" supposed to do ? watch TV and comment ? Mr Clean ?

Refuse the Legion of Honor ? why not abolish it when you are at it. This is only posturing.

the "tutoyer" story is a false debate too. It mainly happens in infotainment's programs when the politician want to show he is "one of the guys"... big deal...

About the last one, there is a real problem. But it concerns only a minority. And nobody can accuse Christine Ockrent or Anne Sinclair of doing a bad job because one is married to Kouchner and the other to DSK.

The author of the comment seems to ignore the fact that the vast majority of French journalists are leaning to the left and the ones on the other side a minority, and a well known one. Too bad if the lefties can't avoid Segolene's blunders. Probably we wouldn't have heard this comment (except from a right-winger) when a socialist is in charge. Normally in the later case the public-service is compared to the Pravda.

Real information, vital information always leak out, sooner or later. For whatever interests it may serve.

I think that the problem with the French media (besides the fact that the system lacks "automatic" transparency like in the Nordic countries, but that's another story) is that French journalists (as many other journalists in other countries) have a very high opinion of themselves and prefer to drink wine at the local Café with their friends and wonder what pun could be the neat one for the latest headline of the article they copy from Reuters or AFP, instead of doing investigating journalism. Because the later is so much harder to do, and in the end the paycheck won't be higher. This is the real problem with journalism, not stories of "tutoiement"and decorations.

by oldfrog on Sun Feb 18th, 2007 at 10:50:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The tutoiement story arises from the fact that Sarkozy deliberately calls political journalists following his campaign "tu" so as to create a false buddy-buddy atmosphere.

It was discussed on Arrêt sur image last week with Philippe Ridet, who follows NS around for Le Monde. Asked why he accepted this compromising familiarity, Ridet said he personally found it difficult to use the formal "vous" with someone who called him "tu". One wonders how many people, and which ones, he would apply this precept to!?

This is all about "access", and the political figure handing out favours. And journalists playing the game instead of keeping the necessary professional distance.

I don't agree with your final paragraph. True, there is insufficient investigative journalism in France. But your picture of journalists spending their time swigging wine while thinking up puns is yet another of the reactionary stereotypes you like to spout.

Tell us rather about the "automatic" transparence of Nordic journalists. How does that work?

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Feb 18th, 2007 at 11:53:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
the Swedes have a law where every act related to government (even local) must be public. There are few exceptions like defense and  medical records for example + investigation secrets from police and judges (to protect the presumption of innocence).

which means practically that any journalist can walk up to any public office and ask them to open their files and they cannot deny. Any file entering and leaving an admnistration must have a special number, according a special system. Both the computer/paper file must be archived at least 10 years. If a civil servant "loses" a file, they often get into trouble.

if somebody within a public (or private) office "leaks" information because he/she finds out that something illegal or immoral is happening, that person cannot be prosecuted. If the person remains anonymous which is often the case, it is forbidden in law to try to trace that person.

to go back to the original discussion : the rat game between people of power and journalists has always existed and of course is worse in a non-transparent system (thus the Nordic comparison). Of course there are media whores in France but sometimes I wonder if they get to the level of Judith Miller, not to talk about "creations" like Jeff Gannon. So talking about "vous" and "tu", organized receptions and legion of honors, not mentioning who is sleeping with who is only the top of the iceberg. If the journalist culture was more into investigation and real interrogation about what is really going on, the French media would be better. Whining about "look at the American freedom of press (???)" or the "BBC is best" won't help. When will French journalist organisations act for lawmaking "à la Swedish" ? I bet that 99% of them don't even know it exists.

that was my point and obviously irony isn't understood.  

by oldfrog on Sun Feb 18th, 2007 at 03:00:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If the journalist culture was more into investigation and real interrogation about what is really going on, the French media would be better.

Sure, I agree with that. But I think the main reason is not happening is that the media belong mostly to private interests who have consolidated their power over the last twenty years, and who have no intention of paying people to work as you say.

Sorry if my irony detector was on the blink...

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Feb 18th, 2007 at 04:05:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Ridet said he personally found it difficult to use the formal "vous" with someone who called him "tu". One wonders how many people, and which ones, he would apply this precept to!?

I'm like that. Even when I don't feel comfortable using the familiar with someone, if they consistently address me that way I'll start finding my use of the formal somewhat awkward. It might have something to do with the fact that my primary linguistic socialization was in English, but even there you have the first name thing going which I find annoying from people who I don't know and am not interacting with in an informal setting, but I still tend to swallow my discomfort and go along.

by MarekNYC on Sun Feb 18th, 2007 at 03:34:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It's still a lousy explanation for a professional at Ridet's level to offer for accepting Sarko's patronising behaviour.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Feb 18th, 2007 at 03:58:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Both for phony first names are for inappropriate familiar tu/vous (tu/Vd.).

As the older rock critic reminded the young protagonist in Almost Famous ... they are the enemy (or maybe that was a member of the band telling the protagonist 'you are the enemy').

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Mon Feb 19th, 2007 at 09:21:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You take a literal view to dismiss what are very real problems

  • there are alwmost never hardball questions to politicians, on 14 July or otherwise. But that 14 July interview is symbolic of the sycophantic nature of the top political journalists;

  • the Legion d'Honneur, similarly, is a symptom of political journalists being institutionalised and being fully integrated in the system. Look at who the top names are - they've been around for as long as Chirac, Sarkozy or Royal - or longer. The head of Europe 1 is Elkabbach. His sidekick 25 years ago, Jean-Marie Cavada (until recently, the head of Radio-France, and previously of France Television), is now a MEP for Bayrou's UDF. PPDA is the Establishment's Establishment. Duhamel, who's paying today for having admitted his preference for Bayrou, has been around for more than 20 years. Catherine Nay, Michele Cotta, Anne Sinclair, etc..; have been around for ages. They go on holiday with politicians, sleep with them, are godparents to one another's kids and live the exact same lives in the same circles. And the same goes with the owners of the media, the Bouygues, Lagardère or Dassault families.

  • the "tu" is part of that as well - it reflects that these people know each other too well (and I saw that the two times I was in the Europe 1 studio last month: all of these people are very obviously intimate and friendly with one another, even when in opposite political sides.

  • as to the intimate relationships, it's a LOT more widespread than you pretend. It's pervasise, and most of the insiders know about it, and they protect one another.

And you can call me populist or extreme-lefty all you want, it's your credibility that's at stake when you say that, not mine.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sun Feb 18th, 2007 at 12:16:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't call you extreme left, I just state the the writer of the comment falls into that kind of attitude.

The original comment transpires that kind of "rebellious" attitude that the "true journalists" would all be like the people at Charlie Hebdo, the rest is only media whores.

Talk about a simplistic attitude.

I don't go the 14th of July party
I refuse the Legion of Honor
I only say vous to everybody
I immediately resign from my job if my wife goes into politics.

I am a true journalist

by oldfrog on Sun Feb 18th, 2007 at 03:09:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Speaking of simplistic attitudes, you just proved that I'm a wiking. True wikings don't have horned helmets. I don't have a horned helmet, so I am a wiking selon vous.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sun Feb 18th, 2007 at 03:50:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Charlie Hebdo is not the only newspaper following these rules. Libération, for example had only one journalist that had received the Legion d'Honneur - and that was for a reporter wounded in a war zone.

These rules are basic deontology - do not become a client of the people one is reporting on. Or stop claiming the press is independant.

The Legion d'Honneur was specifically created to make sure the fonctionnaires would obey Napoleon - as a carrot.

Accepting to be entertained by politicians, to get on overly friendly terms with them, does end up making friends of journalists and politicians, even lovers. Friendship is certainly not independance.

This connivence between the aristocracy of French journalists and editorialists and politicians is a large part of the reason politicians rarely get hardball questions that are followed upon. One simply doesn't verbally assault a friend.

Indeed if Royal is getting such a rough treatment in the media, it might be because she didn't have the sort of friendships Sarkozy depends on, (with people like Elkabbach), or Strauss-Kahn or Fabius would have had.

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères

by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Sun Feb 18th, 2007 at 03:56:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]


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