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'self-censorship and excessive zeal'

by the stormy present Tue Jun 26th, 2007 at 04:25:07 AM EST

Well, it escaped my notice at the time, but apparently several days ago The New York Times discovered that Sarkozy's ties to almost all major French media owners just might have influenced the election:

Free Press in France: The Right to Say What Politicians Want

The debate is an old one in a country where politics, the press and big business have long been intertwined. But the issue of self-censorship has come into sharp relief of late because of declining circulation in the print media and the concentration of media ownership among the new president's close allies

From over there to the right - afew


Mr. Sarkozy's head of communications, Franck Louvrier, scoffed at the suggestions of undue political influence. "There has never been any interference," he said. "Every newspaper can write what it wants."

But in dozens of interviews with French journalists and media executives, a more nuanced picture of French news media has emerged.

A "more nuanced picture."  Is that what we're calling it nowadays?  Because I thought the phrase used to be, "he's lying."

Philippe Ridet, who covered Mr. Sarkozy's presidential campaign for Le Monde, said he never faced direct pressure. But he recalled how after one of his first campaign rallies, Mr. Sarkozy remarked to a select group of reporters, "It's funny, I know all your bosses."

Ha ha.  Yeah.  Funny.

A wave of privatizations and the creation of an independent regulator in the 1980s ended routine interference in the news media by the state, but, according to Jean-Pierre Elkabbach, president of the radio network Europe 1, people are still mindful of the past.

"The real subject is self-censorship and excessive zeal," Mr. Elkabbach said.

See?  Privatization is good.  Now people censor themselves so we don't have to waste precious tax dollars doing it for them.  Privatization teaches people to be self-motivated.

OK, seriously now....  This is an issue we've talked about a lot here, and I've also heard some of my offline French friends complain about it with (for me) unexpected rancor.  And the Times paints a picture that is increasingly bleak:

Mr. Lagardère's Journal du Dimanche became the emblem of self-censorship last month when its editor, Jacques Espérandieu, spiked the article about Cécilia Sarkozy's failure to vote. Mr. Espérandieu cited privacy concerns, insisting that no one had put pressure on him.

But according to two newsroom witnesses, the editor told journalists that he made the decision after a call from Mr. Lagardère.

At Paris Match, one reporter summed up the magazine's informal policy: "We will not run sensitive scoops, we will pick them up after someone else ran them."

That sounds a little to me like an executive decision to try not to sell papers.  It makes zero sense.

But score one for the online world, the New Political Media.  The article opens with a reference to Rue89, an "irreverent" political news Web site that the Times says can "counterbalance" the silence of the Big Media.  The Times also implies (without actually saying so) that journalists whose pieces are spiked in their mainstream publications are leaking those stories to the website:

It took just a few days for Rue89 to emerge as an online refuge for critical political articles and readers suspicious of cozy ties between the new French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, and the country's media barons.

The irreverent, six-week-old news site crashed with heavy traffic after publishing an article about the failure of Mr. Sarkozy's wife, Cécilia, to vote in May in the second round of the presidential election, a scoop too hot for publication by the mainstream Sunday newspaper, Le Journal du Dimanche.

"We've become a kind of Amnesty International for censored journalists," said Pierre Haski, a co-founder of the site and a former correspondent for the newspaper Libération.

Not a whisper in the NYT piece, of course, about oh, I dunno, the comfy-cozy relationships between certain OTHER presidents and prime ministers and certain media barons in the English-speaking world.  (Or, in the case of one particular leader of the Free World, I guess we have to say he's "allegedly English-speaking.")  And God forbid that the Times criticize the idea of news media ownership being increasingly concentrated in the hands of a few super-rich businessmen with political ties.

It's a lot easier to just talk about this as if it only happens in France.

Display:
I'm curious what our French users think of the Rue89 site.  I don't recall it being mentioned here before.
by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Mon Jun 25th, 2007 at 09:44:07 AM EST
It was referred to a couple of times, but I don't have time to dig them out. It was founded by Libération journalists who were downsized out not long back when the main shareholder, Edouard de Rothschild, laid down his conditions for any further cash injections from him. The NYT may be slightly exaggerating its role and importance.

As to others mentioned here, I and others commented on Le Monde's Sarko embed, Philippe Ridet, who in fact said more than the NYT quotes about Sarko's handling of embeds - particularly his use of forced familiarity to get all the boys onside. Like an overfamiliar boss - you know you're part of the team, and you know you can get in trouble if you don't play along...

Elkabbach is the last person to ask for a view of the situation, he is one of the most prominent Sarko suck-ups in the French media world.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Jun 25th, 2007 at 10:07:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The story does mention that about Elkabbach:

On the popular satirical puppet show, "Les Guignols," Mr. Elkabbach's dour puppet opens his mouth and speaks with Mr. Sarkozy's unmistakable voice.
by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Mon Jun 25th, 2007 at 10:18:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Liberation reported back in February that the producer of Guignols (name escapes me) had instructed the 3 guys who do the writing not to make fun of Sarkozy any longer. They could "laugh with him" but not "at him".
by desmoulins (gsb6@lycos.com) on Mon Jun 25th, 2007 at 02:32:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If it's true I am 100% disillusioned. Soon they'll have orders to go easy on Bush.

Hey, Grandma Moses started late!
by LEP on Tue Jun 26th, 2007 at 09:08:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't know Rue69, but it seems somewaht akin to the Uks Private Eye, a magazine whichspecialises in publishing spiked stories.

The difficulty is that sometime you don't know the real provenance of a story. Such mags become the recipients of as much spin as truth as politicos leak against each other

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed Jun 27th, 2007 at 10:24:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Some things the Times story doesn't mention, but have been written about a lot on French blogs,

>that Bolloré owns a 40% share of the CSA polling institute as well.

>the on-air fit that Sarkozy threw when France 3 ran a story leading in to an interview about him steering contracts to a foreign company as Finance minister. Followed by an off-air, but widely reported, threat to have the management fired when he was president.

>the near-military control over journalists at the Sarkozy campaign office and at campaign events. Almost every story about Royal included comments made by her or her staff that were "en coulisse" or "a part" but such comments were almost never reported in stories about Sarkozy's campaign.

by desmoulins (gsb6@lycos.com) on Mon Jun 25th, 2007 at 02:39:41 PM EST
Yes, it sounds like some other country I know. I fear we will have to keep expanding the blogs until the traditional media start to become irrelevant or at least the blogs start to push the old media to do their jobs. This might already be happening in the U.S. It will take longer in France; blogs are kind of cowboyish for La France.

Hey, Grandma Moses started late!
by LEP on Tue Jun 26th, 2007 at 09:15:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This item [in Spanish] which I linked to in bob's diary on resilience quotes Sociologist Manuel Castells saying
Internet is "the key element for personal, political, economic and professional autonomy".

"The more autonomous a person is, the more they use Internet and in its turn this use reinforces autonomy".



Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jun 26th, 2007 at 09:24:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Strange as it sounds the internet also begets collective action. Politically, in the U.S., the autonomous are coming together and doing a lot. ( I know, I've given a good amount of money (for me) over the last several years during the American political campaigns, even though I'm in Europe- and I can only send money- others do a lot more all though the internet.
To me, the evolution of Daily Kos is a miracle.
I have a fear in the back of my mind that one day I'll awake and my computer will be blank- Bush and Sarcozy will have have turned it off. But rationally I know they can't do that because there's too much commerce going on and money talks for everything in this world.

Hey, Grandma Moses started late!
by LEP on Tue Jun 26th, 2007 at 11:20:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, indeed, the French press and Sarkosy (and his censorship "heh, I know all your bosses...do you like your jobs?"). And...when is the press in the US going to get real about its role in the current US govt mess? Not to say this isn't a real discussion about France, it is, but its a bit about projection too, isn't it?

Self-censorship and excessive zeal, indeed...US Press not excluded...

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia

by whataboutbob on Mon Jun 25th, 2007 at 03:11:37 PM EST
Are you sure that this is not about US press self-censorship?

In the US system exactly how would one write about press censorship? Perhaps this is an attempt to open the door a crack. Perhaps this, as the first pass is as good as it is possible to get.

Of course it could be an article by a completely deluded reporter who can not see the forest for the trees.

aspiring to genteel poverty

by edwin (eeeeeeee222222rrrrreeeeeaaaaadddddd@@@@yyyyaaaaaaa) on Mon Jun 25th, 2007 at 05:16:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
How would you tell? if the first was true, there will be no further discussion as it would invite more discussion of the underlying situation.

If the second was true there will be no further discussion, because everyone else is less deluded.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.

by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Mon Jun 25th, 2007 at 07:17:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
the Anal-iz-ation factor.  Really anal people get paid boocoo dollars analyze, publish, televise crap which really should never even make "the news".
www.projectcensored.org illustrates some of my point.
I love irreverence and on my fried hard drive I have the quotes from the New World Order illuminaries thanking the New York Times for their participation over the years in the manipulation  of "news" in order to advance their agendas.
by Lasthorseman on Mon Jun 25th, 2007 at 09:07:07 PM EST
I find it odd that omitting news because of veiled threats directed at one's job should be called "self-censorship". The same thing could be said about activily propagandizing lies. Our glorious free press would call it censorship if it occured in China, Russia, ... Not that self-censorship doesn't take place as well but calling it self-censorship makes it sound as if reporters are free to report if only they are willing to show spine.

Wasn't there a piece from an editor of the NYT a few month ago that was almost apologetic for the propaganda spewed by some of the "reporters" on staff and gave the impression it was beyond his control?

by Fete des fous on Mon Jun 25th, 2007 at 11:39:06 PM EST
In my diary on Finlandisation (shameless diary plug here) I wrote very briefly about the "self-censorship" of the Finnish media in criticizing the Soviet Union. Perhaps we should co-opt the term and speak of the Finlandisation of the media?

"The basis of optimism is sheer terror" - Oscar Wilde
by NordicStorm (m<-at->sturmbaum.net) on Tue Jun 26th, 2007 at 05:15:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
But the media was "annexed" long ago. I always struggle with how much of what we are witnessing today is really different (I think not all that much).

Great "Finlandization" diary btw (but I quickly become quite irritated by the islamo-facsism and world war 4 rhetoric). I have finnish friends whose parents were forced to leave their home because of annexation after the loss to the soviets. I understand their parents still feel very strongly about it (duh), but it seems present generations may not be all that resentful toward the russians?

by Fete des fous on Tue Jun 26th, 2007 at 04:58:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, that's rather complex question to answer fully (having been neighbours for quite a while, there's obviously centuries' worth of history between Russians and Finns). There is certainly some anti-Russian sentiment, but I wouldn't say it's particularly prevalent (not more than any other xenophobic sentiment, anyway). There isn't really much of a movement to reclaim territory lost to Russia, other than among the ultra-nationalist fringe and perhaps people among the older generations who were forced to leave said territory (as you mentioned).
Besides, it's not good business sense to hold grudges. I'm in fact taking a beginner's course in Russian at the moment, because I figured it might come in handy at some point.

"The basis of optimism is sheer terror" - Oscar Wilde
by NordicStorm (m<-at->sturmbaum.net) on Tue Jun 26th, 2007 at 05:49:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, I think there are two parts of the process.  There's Part A, the story that gets killed directly because of "veiled" (or not-so-veiled) threats.  And then after that, there's Part B, the stories that get not-reported or not-published because the journalists (reporters or editors or both) want to avoid attracting further attention from the people who issued the veiled-or-not-so-veiled threats the first time around.  They avoid doing a story because it might have consequences, even if this time no threats have been issued, veiled or not.

Part A, as you point out, is really direct censorship.  Part B is self-censorship (out of a sense of self-preservation) because of the "chilling effect" of Part A.  In that case, the decision about what gets censored is made by the journalists themselves.

by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Tue Jun 26th, 2007 at 06:37:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
To be honest, I am struggling to see much of a difference apart from the time evolution of the process combined with a distinct ability to fatly bribe the scribes. Oh, and the lack of a central censorship office.
by Fete des fous on Tue Jun 26th, 2007 at 04:38:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'd recommend reading Edward S. Hermann's and Noam Chomsky's Manufacturing Consent, in which they propose a model (called the propaganda model) for manipulating media in what subjects it covers and how it covers those subjects.

Btw, a Wikipedia template/macro would be really nice to have in the next version of Eurotrib, akin to the youtube one. Just a thought.

"The basis of optimism is sheer terror" - Oscar Wilde

by NordicStorm (m<-at->sturmbaum.net) on Tue Jun 26th, 2007 at 05:55:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
How do you want it to work/look?

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Jun 28th, 2007 at 06:09:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
How about a DIV or OBJECT tag including the wikipedia page with scroll bars?

The macro should be something like [[wikipedia ...]] where ... is the part after the "wikipedia.org/wiki/" in the URL.

A more international version would have either separate macros for each wikipedia such as [[en.wikipedia ...]] and [[fr.wikipedia]] or a macro with two arguments: [[wikipedia EN ...]], [[wikipedia DE ...]], etc.

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jun 28th, 2007 at 06:31:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm waiting for NordicStorm's opinion and then put something together. Tho' I would continue to just use someone's Firefox extension.

By the way, what's up with that? Any existing or planned further development? Or do you know how do edit it?

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Thu Jun 28th, 2007 at 08:11:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
A valuable addition would be a function that not only copies HTML and URL of an article, but then inserts the text paragraph-wise into a bilingual column.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Jun 28th, 2007 at 08:15:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Any existing or planned further development?
Yes. As in, more development should happen at some point. One issue is, I don't really ever do much software development for other people. Thus, everything I make tends to be of the 'kinda works' variety. This is not so good for release versions. Also, I never comment my code, nor do I really organise it in a sensible way. In other words, I am a very lazy coder!

I have made a few other types of extensions that work in a variety of ways. Some perhaps useful, others less so. However, it was a very educational experience. I think that by now I know enough about the Firefox extension system to have a good idea of how to implement most things one could think of, and also of how hard it might be. Since this is being brought up here, I assume there is some interest and I should take things forward. I am currently at a conference, and will be vacationing next week, so not much chance of internet or coding time. Let's say, in about a week, when I get back home, I'll put up a diary with some of my suggestions for features I have thought of, as well as providing the oppertunity to make requests.

Editing files:
There will be a directory somewhere on your computer called 'tribext@someone'. This is the extension. In the 'chrome/content' path you will find all the source files. The '.js' files are the main ones, though the one called 'csb.js' is auto-generated and contains all the copied content displayed in the sidebar when open. The file that takes care of the copying is calles 'copymenu.js', this is the main file to edit. The file 'copysidebar.js' implements things like the popup on mouseover feature. None of these files are properly commented so good luck if you decide to dive in!

by someone (s0me1smail(a)gmail(d)com) on Thu Jun 28th, 2007 at 05:06:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks! I am totally new to this code, so I'm just tinkering. So far I have only deleted the 'test' menu point and changed the language of the texts.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Jun 29th, 2007 at 04:32:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This is for anyone who may have some clue. I could create a copied HTML into bilingual column function, e.g.:

Index - Politika - Kovácsszemle

aki a kaliforniai Chico Outlaws baseballcsapat oszlopos tagjaként járult hozzá a csapat hat meccs óta tartó veretlenségi szériájához.

A Kovácsok azonban nem csak a test, hanem a szellem emberei is. Dora Kovacs, a Massachusetts General Hospital munkatársa például épp most jelentette be, hogy kutatócsoportja felfedezte, egy

What I did and works:

  1. at the bottom of copyMenu.xul, I edited the redundant contentAreaContextMenu item that calls CopyPlainText() to one calling CopyHtmlBilinText();
  2. in copyMenu.js, I copied someone's CopyHtmlText() function in its entirety and renamed the copy CopyHtmlBilinText();
  3. within the function, in var pasteHtml, I changed the blockquote tags into table/tr/td tags.

What I did but didn't work: deep in the if(marray) loop, after the if(badHTML...else... thing, I inserted:
if(tag="p"){
            selHtml = selHtml.replace(marray[ind-1], "</td>"<td width
"2%">"</td>"<td width="49%" style="background-color: #eaffea; color: #0a6f0a">"</td>"</tr> "<tr>"<td style="background-color: #ffffe0; color: #992020">");
        }

..but the "<p> tags remain. What's wrong with my code?

Could it somehow be "</p> tags in the copied html? (By the way, given the practice of some sites, "<br>"<br> must be dealt with too.)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Fri Jun 29th, 2007 at 06:10:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Ah! I expressed myself a bit sloppily. I was thinking something like

[[wiki.en Article Name]] -> <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Article_Name">Article Name</a>. Okay, it doesn't require an enormous amount of effort to type out the entire URL, but it might be a bit easier if you reference Wikipedia frequently (and happen to know there's an article named "Article Name" on Wikipedia, obviously).

But Migeru's idea would be pretty cool!

"The basis of optimism is sheer terror" - Oscar Wilde

by NordicStorm (m<-at->sturmbaum.net) on Thu Jun 28th, 2007 at 08:26:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Heh: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk:Article_Name

"The basis of optimism is sheer terror" - Oscar Wilde
by NordicStorm (m<-at->sturmbaum.net) on Thu Jun 28th, 2007 at 09:17:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I have the pilot version of yours so far, this:

((wil [fr][TGV]))
((wil [en] Conspiracy theory))

...wil get you this:

TGV
Conspiracy theory

Now that works because Wikipedia is clever, even the second lazy version without brackets (which results in an extra space in the link), but it would be nicer if the macro would replace spaces with '_' characters in the link for multi-word article titles. Anyone knows how to do that?

I may do a second version as Migeru requested, but now I am studying someone's code.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Fri Jun 29th, 2007 at 04:28:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I note there is also a macro for links to articles in the Eurotrib wiki.  I now doubled it, with both ((wiki ...)) and ((ewiki ...)) giving you a link to an appropiate article, and may edit the former to become what Migeru requested.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Jun 29th, 2007 at 04:37:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There is an ETWiki macro called [[glossary ..]] already. See example .

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jun 29th, 2007 at 06:40:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm not sure you understood that the wiki macro was a pre-existing one. That macro is only for links to the Glossary within the Wiki.

At present there are two more macros used only by frontpagers, I guess we have to ask Colman whether they can and should be used by all users.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Fri Jun 29th, 2007 at 12:03:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Which ones?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Fri Jun 29th, 2007 at 12:05:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
comment and tag.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Jun 29th, 2007 at 12:23:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh, I don't think either are useful to normal users.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Fri Jun 29th, 2007 at 12:25:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Javier Solana
Nice!

"The basis of optimism is sheer terror" - Oscar Wilde
by NordicStorm (m<-at->sturmbaum.net) on Fri Jun 29th, 2007 at 06:34:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
For a second there I thought you had found something nice about Javier Solana.

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jun 29th, 2007 at 06:42:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
French cuisine

It works fine! Fantastic!

"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet

by Melanchthon on Mon Jul 2nd, 2007 at 12:22:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I've always assumed that the French media (with the exception of le Canard) had been emasculated a long time ago. At least that's my memory of the 60s and early 70s.

The shock is to realize that it's happened to the US media as well.

by Lupin on Tue Jun 26th, 2007 at 11:43:41 AM EST
A wave of privatizations and the creation of an independent regulator in the 1980s

I wanted to ask about this for long. Who was behind this privatisation? Was it a self-defeating scheme by Mitterand?

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Thu Jun 28th, 2007 at 06:12:45 AM EST


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