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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: Le journalisme n’est qu’investigation

by Laurent Etre

Journalism is not just investigation

Translated Saturday 13 April 2013, by Chrysanthie Therapontos

"At Mediapart, we have never doubted our information." That is what Edwy Plenel said, immodestly jubilant, as founding director of the website that revealed the story of the offshore account of Jerome Cahuzac.

And after all, he’s right: in this case, which is shaking up the entire executive, Mediapart knew it was taking risks. On the other hand, where the former editorial director of Le Monde goes too far is when he thinks he can denounce "complicity of politicians and media" as far as the lie of the former Minister of Budget is concerned. It is completely obvious that the investigation is at the heart of journalism. It is not illegitimate that a successful investigation, namely that of a colleague Fabrice Arfi, swells with pride the media concerned. But to use it in order to pose as a white knight in the face of a journalism generally in collusion, this is simply slipping out of control! Since when does journalism exclude prudence? Why should all the press, at the end of 2012, have followed the charges of Mediapart solely on the basis of a telephone recording in which the voice of Jerome Cahuzac has been authenticated only in mid-March? It is not simply that "the rest" of printed press, which is struggling to maintain its existence despite economic pressures, does not possess the same means to investigate. This would be too easy an argument.

No, it is also that, as for certain newspapers such as l’Humanité, journalism is not limited to this single task. Behind Cahuzac there is a system, a capitalist machine that, by its very dynamics, corrupts public affairs. A solid journalism must therefore enter into this terrain, otherwise the investigation just goes around in circles, from one sickening case to another sickening case, never grasping the evil at its root. To reveal scandals involving the powerful is crucial. Deciphering the low blows against employees, such as the national inter-professional agreement [1], with the declared aim of contributing to their "mobility", is equally important. Because in the face of the decline of "liberal democracy" the citizen’s mission of a journalist is also to permit the reinvention of democracy, on grounds of other social issues. The honor of journalism is not played out in a duel between the investigations and prudence, even when the former shines brightly and the latter seems to be monopolized by overpaid double-dippers, jumping from one TV or radio program to the next. No, this honor implies a commitment to a worldview, and a visceral attachment to pluralism.

[1Accord National Interprofessionnel

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