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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: Dans le doute, le JDD préfère s’abstenir

by Sébastien Homer

The Journal Du Dimanche Prefers to Abide By the Unwritten Rule “When In Doubt, Don’t Publish It”

Translated Friday 1 June 2007, by Emma Paulay

Within the press group run by Arnaud Lagardère, a close friend of Nicolas Sarkozy, information must be “Sarkompatible”. If not, it’s out.

“The atmosphere? You could cut it with a knife”, a Hachette journalist admitted yesterday, “Especially as our managers are on seminar with Lagardère at the moment”. All this has come at a bad time…” Indeed. A general assembly of the Journal du Dimanche was held on 15 May 2007 following confirmation by the editor, Jacques Espérandieu, that he took the decision “not to publish” an article which would have been found interesting because it revealed that Cécilia Sarkozy did not cast her vote in the run-off of the presidential elections. “Voting is personal”, says the editor of the newspaper, which belongs to Lagardère, who is said to have introduced Sarkozy as his “brother”. The editor explains that he received “quite a few phone calls from people emphasising the private and confidential nature of this information”.

The CGT and the CFDT trade unions believe that “the signed voting lists are public and voting is a civic, not a private, action”. The unions denounced, “another case of the Lagardère group interfering with the editorial stance of the Hachette-Lagardère titles” and a “censorship that totally contradicts the promises made by Christian de Villeneuve, the new head of editorial, to the journalists on his arrival and also Arnaud Lagardère’s promise to the group’s union leaders.

The worst thing is that this puts the spotlight on another case, which had gone unnoticed until now, involving Paris-Match, another Lagardère group title. An insider source has confirmed that the journalists were against the publication of the 25 April edition when they were stunned to learn that the front cover was Sarkozy holding his son in his arms. “The only time in the history of the title that Paris-Match has put a candidate on the cover in between the two election rounds was in 2002 when we clearly took a stand on beating Le Pen”, a journalist explains. “In the meantime, Sarkozy apparently asked for his son’s face to be blurred. So we put the death of Jean-Pierre Cassel on the front cover.”

However, it is admittedly “more and more tense. Especially as the threat of being fired is dangling over our heads and we remember only too well how Alain Genestar was dismissed after he put Cécilia Sarkozy on the front cover of Paris-Match”. In the end, the atmosphere in the media, public or private sector, is as tense as can be, and that’s before the president has actually taken over the reins. But, when in doubt, some prefer to abstain, for fear of upsetting he who is a friend of the press barons. And not only those who own yachts…(1)

(1) Reference to Vincent Bolloré, head of the Bolloré group, who lent his yacht to Nicolas Sarkozy for a holiday after the presidential election.

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