SPOTLIGHT: THE POWER OF NOT INFORMING
With the increasing number of terror attacks in France comes an intensifying debate on the role of media coverage of the events. French news outlets have begun to ask whether spreading the identity of terrorists, who often are seeking some twisted sense of glory, feeds the problem. Reporting on the latest attack on a church Tuesday in northern France, where two 19-year-olds killed an 86-year-old priest, some major French newspapers, radios and television networks, including Le Monde, Le Figaro, La Croix, RFI, France 24 or BFM TV have chosen to — parsimoniously — reveal the killers' names and ages, but not their photographs.
"We don't necessarily want to take part in this form of posthumous glorification," Jérôme Fenoglio, the director of Le Monde, was quoted as saying. As for RFI, France 24 and the radio network Monte Carlo Doualiya, they said in a press release yesterday that they will be "making efforts not to pass on terrorist propaganda or systematically call "group" or "organization" terrorist movements that claim to belong to a state that doesn't exist." Not all French news outlets however agree: Libération, Le Parisien, L'Express, 20 Minutes, for instance, just like the BBC, decided to publish pictures of the attackers. Demonstrating the intensity of such a debate, the French secretary of state for assistance to victims Juliette Méadel announced she would make proposals in September to implement a single ethical code for media.
Meanwhile, on the other side of Europe, the Turkish government is reminding us in a very different way the power of information — or lack thereof. A decree last night ordered the closure of no less than three news agencies, 16 television channels, 23 radio stations, 45 daily newspapers, 15 magazines and 29 publishing houses, which the government accuses of having supported the July 15 failed coup attempt. Ankara's deepening authoritarian streak is a blow to freedom of information, even if we know how complicated that freedom can be.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR TODAY
- Hillary Clinton acceptance speech at Democratic National Convention.
- Lollapalooza festival kicks off in Chicago.
- World Hepatitis Day, with goal of eliminating viral hepatitis by 2030.