Freedom of the press – the idea and the resilience
November 19, 2013 Leave a comment
On Monday, November 18, a gunman entered the hall of newspaper Libération and fired several rounds. We recapped the story for our friends and colleagues up at The Mudflats. Due to the intensity of the tragedy and the incredible resilience demonstrated by chief editor Nicolas Demorand, we wanted to share today’s editorial with you. Despite the shooting, Libération’s news team convened for an emergency meeting and released their daily issue as originally planned. Here are the words of Demorand, translated for you. We were in Paris when the incident took place and saw with our own eyes the shock register on our journalist friends’ faces. We express all our support and admiration for the team at Libération.
The absolute horror, the unthinkable in our newspaper’s hall. In this space that everyone here calls the “welcoming centre”. For Libération, welcoming is affirming that a news outlet belongs to all and that, in this capacity, is accessible from the street, transparent, with nothing to hide.
How many of our readers living in the neighborhood are sometimes dropping by to say hello or draw the attention of one of journalists on a piece of news that might be relevant? On our scale, that of a street, a building, a newspaper: a public space, this symbolic location at the heart of any democracy in which ideas, values, beliefs are exchanged. Where we are happy to reside together because we know and feel all of those things that are beyond us but somehow also keep us together.
Yesterday morning, a man armed with a machine gun fired several rounds in this very location, severely injuring a photographer’s assistant. Within a few seconds, the welcoming centre became a “crime scene”, a “war zone” as described by the Interior Minister, Manuel Valls. Police replaced journalists. They worked tirelessly all day to piece together this horrendous, barbaric act, this profanation.
Since then, and after the similar events that took place where our colleagues of BFM TV are located, all media outlets are now under police protection. In Paris, in France, in 2013. This absurd situation is scandalous but necessary. What is a newspaper? It is an irreplaceable actor of life in a democracy. It is a vector of debate, sometimes a combat of ideas. It is a place where ideas are born and broadcasted, aiming to help citizens live their lives within society. This is where a democracy is born, and in its wake, the sublime turmoil of the press. Firing shots in a newsroom, is attacking the lives of men and women that are only doing their jobs. Who are also participating into an idea, a group of values that, where we reside, form the Republic.
Those are not empty words but a sense of the obvious that somehow bears to be repeated, in France, in 2013. And we do so with fear, thinking about the tragedy that has made a victim of Libération. But we say it with strength, with determination, stubbornly. And we affirm that, beyond the shock and sadness, also lie the optimism and serenity that, at the end of the day, animate those who believe in democracy.
Libération will not change. Even if we are shocked beyond belief, we will continue to defend and cherish what has been moving us for over forty years. We will continue to work with our own weapons – our non-violent arms, those of liberty and journalistic integrity. We still believe that our common world – attacked, wounded, fragile – is the most precious gift of all and must be, at any time, preserved. We will continue. We will go on.
We refuse to bury any of our values, principles, or beliefs. This commitment, we owe it to our idea of democracy. And to our readers. And, from the bottom of our hearts, to this young man, so severely injured, to his family, to his friends, among which the whole Libération news team stands, together.