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November 12, 2005
AP Misses Story On French Media Coverage Of Riots

The AP has a report out this afternoon regarding the supposedly cautious approach of the French media on reporting the riots. Elaine Ganley notices the toned-down news coverage of the social unrest and violence, but misses at least one large part of the reason why the French media have started to play down the story:

At least two television stations scaled back broadcasting images of flaming vehicles a mainstay of coverage to avoid stoking violence. Some channels decided not to provide daily police figures on the number of cars burned overnight, in the thousands since troubles began Oct. 27.

Is it self-censorship? Or a sense of responsibility?

Television stations that are holding back deny any influence from police, who insist publicity for the riots has fueled "copycat" violence. Instead, the stations say they don't want to play into the hands of rampaging youths seeking coverage of what they see as their exploits.

Perhaps that is what some of the French media told Ganley. She apparently missed the coverage in the Guardian (UK), in which the director of the news service LCI admitted that he had directed a low-key approach to keep leftist politicians in power:

Mr Dassier said his own channel, which is owned by the private broadcaster TF1, recently decided not to show footage of burning cars.

"Politics in France is heading to the right and I don't want rightwing politicians back in second, or even first place because we showed burning cars on television," Mr Dassier told an audience of broadcasters at the News Xchange conference in Amsterdam today.

That quote came from Thursday's conference -- incidentally, the same annual forum that has produced some of Eason Jordan's allegations against the US and Israeli militaries. The admission by a news executive that news presentations get deliberately skewed to suit the political preferences of news executives apparently will not capture the interest of news agencies outside of the Guardian.

Judith Miller's colleagues only suspected her of having some sympathies for the Bush administration and wound up savaging her on the pages of her own New York Times and other newspapers for weeks. Why have these same guardians of journalistic independence remained silent about Jean-Claude Dassier? It seems that the sin is not journalistic bias, but rather a suspected bias towards conservatism that evokes ire from the craftspeople of the trade.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at November 12, 2005 3:31 PM

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