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Posts tagged ‘Media Circus’


“Je Suis Charlie”

WHAT A DIFFERENCE a day makes!

Shortly before 11.00 this morning I arrived in Place Jean-Paul II, the open space in front of the Cathédrale Notre Dame de Paris, to find that it was home to a selection of the world’s media. Radio and TV broadcasters were busy establishing satellite links with their studios and preparing to broadcast ‘live’ to their audiences around the world.

Notre Dame - Charlie Hebdo

Yet twenty-four hours earlier the media would have been hard pressed to find a story here – any story – let alone a story worth reporting. But then, in what seemed like the blink of an eye, everything changed.

Notre Dame - Charlie Hebdo

Shortly before 11.30 yesterday morning, 7th January, two masked gunmen armed with Kalashnikov rifles and a rocket-propelled grenade launcher stormed the headquarters of the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo in rue Nicolas Appert in the 11th arrondissement of Paris. They shot and killed twelve people, including eight Charlie Hebdo employees and two police officers, and wounded eleven others.

After the news broke, there was an outpouring of sympathy for the victims, support for freedom of speech, and defiance against the perpetrators. The symbol for all this became encapsulated by the declaration, “Je Suis Charlie” (“I am Charlie”).


At midday today people in Paris and across France paused for a minute of silence to mourn the victims of the Charlie Hebdo attack.

Notre Dame - Charlie Hebdo

In declaring today a day of national mourning it was decreed that flags on all public buildings should be flown at half mast and that the bells of the Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris should be rung in honour of the victims.

The Bells of the Cathédrale Notre Dame de Paris speaking for the nation:

From the Place Jean-Paul II I listened as the cathedral bells began to peal a minute or two before midday. The rain fell, a crowd gathered and then the sound of the bells faded and the crowd fell silent. The sound of a police siren in the distance reminded us why we were here and brought into stark relief the names of those who were not, those who were murdered at around this time yesterday …

  • Frédéric Boisseau, 42, building maintenance worker for Sodexo, killed in the lobby
  • Franck Brinsolaro, 49, police officer, was assigned as a bodyguard for Charb
  • Cabu (Jean Cabut) 76, cartoonist
  • Elsa Cayat, 54, psychoanalyst and columnist
  • Charb (Stéphane Charbonnier), 47, cartoonist, columnist and editor-in-chief of Charlie Hebdo
  • Philippe Honoré, 74, cartoonist
  • Bernard Maris, 68, economist, editor, and columnist
  • Ahmed Merabet, 42, police officer, shot in the head as he lay wounded on the ground outside.
  • Moustapha Ourad, proofreader
  • Michel Renaud, 69, festival organiser, a guest at the meeting
  • Tignous (Bernard Verlhac), 57, cartoonist
  • Georges Wolinski, 80, cartoonist

After the silence the bells began to peal again and they did so for a further twenty minutes. Despite the heavy rain, practically everyone stayed until the bells had finished after which there was spontaneous applause.

It seemed to me that the silence, surrounded by the sound of the bells and the sound of the rain falling like tears from the sky said everything that needed to be said.

Notre Dame - Charlie Hebdo

The remaining staff of Charlie Hebdo have announced that publication will continue, with next week’s edition of the newspaper to be released as usual except that, with eight pages, it will be half its usual length – but it will have a print run of one million copies compared to its usual 60,000.

Notre Dame - Charlie Hebdo


La Presidentielle and The Media Circus

TODAY, THE FRENCH WENT to the polls in the first round of the Presidential election. If I could vote in France, which I can’t, I would have voted at the polling station just outside my apartment building.

Outside each polling station posters of all the candidates in the election are displayed. In today’s election there were ten candidates.

Like many polling stations my local one was a school.

Before today, all the opinion polls had François Hollande and Nicolas Sarkozy more or less neck and neck after the first round but with François Hollande having a commanding lead in the second round.

Just to explain, to win the Presidential election a candidate must win over 50% of the vote. If no candidate achieves that in the first round then the top two candidates go through to a second round of voting with all the other candidates eliminated.

Since François Hollande seemed to be riding high, I decided to go to his Parti Socialiste headquarters in the Rue de Solferino this afternoon some five hours before the closing of the polls.

Rue de Solferino:

What always fascinates me on occasions like this is the media circus that appears.

I live in Paris and I take an interest in French politics but I am not single-minded about it. I also have a great interest in the media and particularly in the technology of the media. So, wandering through the satellite trucks, the cameras and the miles of cables was fascinating for me. ‘Boys and their Toys’ I hear you say, but it’s been a lifelong passion of mine and it remains so.

Covering elections for TV is hard work!

This afternoon, when I was taking these photographs, recording the sound and thinking about this blog piece I didn’t know what the result of the premier tour would be. I only had the opinion poll predictions.

Now, as I write this, I know that François Hollande and Nicolas Sarkozy will go head to head in the second round of La Presidentielle on 6th May. With a turnout of over 80% of the electorate in the first round, the outcome of the second round may be uncertain but what is certain is that the media circus in the Rue de Solferino will be even greater than today.