The high profile panel “Post Paris Journalism” was set up spontaneously and in reaction to the brutal terrorist attacks on the Charlie Hebdo office in Paris. The deaths of 12 cartoonists and journalists left France, the whole of Europe and not only the journalist community across the world in shock. Steffi Czerny invites the panelists on stage and asks: “What is the role of new media in the aftermath of the Paris attacks? What will or has changed?”
Jochen Wegner from Zeit Online hosts the panel and introduces Bruno Patino, Head of Programs and Digital at France Television, to find out how he heard about the terrorist attack first in his home town and newsroom. Bruno Patino explains it was a simple phone call, but the events had changed French journalism for ever in his view. Seven days after the attack, the newspaper Le Monde opened with the headline: “7 days that changed France.” Patino says in his view it’s too early for such a judgement but he agrees that the work for journalists has changed completely. Passionately Bruno Patino carries on to say that if terrorists want you to stop publishing content your duty is to continue to publish, and that the events were the first time, for France Television, when the audience broke through social media and forced journalists to respond directly. Patino calls this the “augmented real time coverage”.
Journalism Guru Jeff Jarvis contributes that this is an example for why the journalism industry needs to realise the shift from content producer to service provider. He adds that it would be sad if we’d let ourselves be scared by the events in Paris and stop to be involved and engaged through social and new media. Jarvis also expresses his appreciation for the European publishers who had almost unanimously published the new edition of Charlie Hebdo in support of freedom of speech and in defiance of terrorism. Ironically the land of free speech, the USA behaved much more reserved and less supportive of the cause.
The final panelist Ulrich Reitz from Focus admitted that he was more old-fashioned and said he understood why US publishers dedicded against publishing the Charlie Hebdo cartoons, and argues that it is a different cultural context than in Europe.
What does Je Suis Charlie mean to the french public?
Bruno Patino explains that Je Suis Charlie does not mean I agree with everything Charlie Hebdo published, but it means we need to defend Charlie Hebdo’s right to publish. Je Suis Charlie means I’m in favour of the freedom of speech, in a society where killing is not the answer. “These events were bigger than Charlie Hebdo” Patino adds, “other people died too and we are mourning all victims.”
Jochen Wegner picks up on this point and argues that despite an overwhelming show of support and unanimity it is a time of shock, “everyone freaks out, and some take the opportunity to push their agendas harder.” Wegner gives examples like Rupert Murdoch’s anti-Islam tweets or the populist right wing party AfD in Germany. Wegner shares with the audience that he was also shocked when he saw the cover of Focus Magazine. A polarising image of a Kalashnikov and the question: “Does this have something to do with Islam?”. Ulrich Reitz repsonds by saying that journalists have to take repsonsibility, and while the Focus cover was polarising, journalists need to ask these questions from now on: What is Islam, Islamism, and Terrorism? “As a European Liberal I believe” Reitz adds, “that we need to discuss these things with liberal minds.
The panel moves on to the challenges ahead for journalism. They discuss the term “Lügenpresse” - a nazi term used by the German anti-islamic movement PEGIDA. Wegenr asks how it could happen that this minority had been ignored? Ulrich Reitz argues: “It’s a problem localised mainly in Dresden and says it’s still a limited movement.” ALthough Bruno Patino is not aware of PEGIDA he adds that the “biggest challenge for journalism today is that everyone enters the free market of ideas and journalists has to fight for trust.” The traditional handbooks for journalism don’t apply anymore.
The session ends with a Q&A.