Growing hatred towards journalists
Attacks and harassment targeting news media and journalists increased dangerously in 2018. What with insults, threats, physical attacks and injuries at the hands of protesters or from rounds fired by riot police, journalists encountered an unprecedented level of violence during the “Gilets Jaunes” (Yellow Vest) protests which began in November 2018. Dissatisfied with the media’s coverage of their protest movement, some Gilets Jaunes groups tried to blockade printing presses in order to prevent the distribution of newspapers. The law on business secrets adopted in June 2018 has exemptions for journalists, but reporters were denied access to the documents they needed during the “Implant Files” investigation. The Bolloré business group continued to bring abusive lawsuits in a systematic manner against investigative journalists who tried to cover certain aspects of its activities. Also known as SLAPPs, such lawsuits serve to harass and intimidate, even if later abandoned. Criticism of the media is always legitimate but has sometimes been supplanted by “media-bashing” and hate-filled attacks by politicians. They included the leader of La France Insoumise (France Unbowed), who repeatedly made irresponsible comments about journalists. France’s journalists are also increasingly exposed to online harassment and are being targeted by all kinds of trolls hidden behind screens and pseudonyms. To combat deliberate mass disinformation during elections, the government passed a law on “manipulation of information”. Some of its mechanisms, such as summary judicial proceedings, were widely criticised on the grounds that they are hard to implement, and perhaps even counter-productive.
33 in 2018
21.87 in 2018