French media rapped for Charlie Hebdo coverage

UPDATED: France's major TV and radio networks were formally rapped by the French broadcast regulator on Thursday for what it considered to be serious "breaches" in their coverage of the recent Charlie Hebdo terrorist attack.

French media rapped for Charlie Hebdo coverage
Media swarmed to the scenes of the attacks but have since been rapped for their coverage. Photo: AFP
The warnings were issued for violations including: showing the moment two of the Islamist gunmen cold-bloodedly shot dead a policeman; identifying the two gunmen before police did so publicly; reporting that people were hiding in a Jewish supermarket taken over by a third gunmen; and providing live video feeds of the deadly police assault on the supermarket.
The Conseil Superieur de l'Audiovisuel (CSA) said it determined that 36 breaches of broadcast rules had been committed, to different degrees of gravity, by state channels France 24, France 2, France 3, France 5, France Info, France Inter and RFI as well as commercial broadcasters TF1, LCI, Euronews, Canal+, BFMTV, iTele, Europe 1, RMC and RTL.
The formal notifications served as warnings, but no penalties were imposed unless the outlets repeated the violations.
The CSA said in a statement it recognized the broadcasters' role in "ensuring the public is informed" but that had to be balanced against "allowing law enforcement to fulfil their mission with the required effectiveness".
The news coverage related to a series of attacks by the three Islamist gunmen between January 7 and 9 in and near Paris. They started with the attack on the offices of the Charlie Hebdo satirical newspaper in which 12 people were murdered and culminated in police assaults on two different sites that resulted in the gunmen's deaths.
By airing amateur footage showing the two gunmen walking up to a wounded policeman lying in the street outside the newspaper's office, round-the-clock news channel France 24 committed one of the more serious violations, the CSA said.
Although the channel blanked out the moment of the officer's murder, his voice could be heard — as well as the bangs from the gun.
Another equally serious breach, by iTele and LCI, was showing the identities and names of two of the gunmen — brothers Said and Cherif Kouachi — despite officials insisting they hold back.
"This might have allowed them (the gunmen) to understand they had been identified and were being actively sought, which risked disturbing the authorities' actions," the CSA said.
Most of the broadcasters also announced that the police and the Kouachi brothers had exchanged gunfire in the town of Dammartin-en-Goele, near Paris, on January 9.
"This information could have had dramatic consequences for the hostages" taken the same day in the Paris supermarket by the third gunman, Amedy Coulibaly, in a bid to pressure police to let the Kouachis go.
Finally, reports by France 2, TF1 and RMC about the possibility of people hiding from Coulibaly in a cold storage room in the Paris supermarket "were likely to gravely threaten the safety" of those people, the CSA said.
It added that it was recommending changes to broadcast rules to reinforce the protection of "human dignity" and public order during coverage of conflicts and terrorist acts.
The CSA often issues formal warnings to French media; in 2014 it delivered 45 such notifications.

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Surgeon fined for trying to sell Paris terror attack victim’s x-ray

A Paris court on Wednesday convicted a surgeon for trying to sell an X-Ray image of a wounded arm of a woman who survived the 2015 terror attacks in the French capital.

Surgeon fined for trying to sell Paris terror attack victim's x-ray

Found guilty of violating medical secrecy, renowned orthopaedic surgeon Emmanuel Masmejean must pay the victim €5,000 or face two months in jail, judges ordered.

Masmejean, who works at the Georges-Pompidou hospital in western Paris, posted the image of a young woman’s forearm penetrated by a Kalashnikov bullet on marketplace Opensea in late 2021.

The site allows its roughly 20 million users to trade non-fungible tokens (NFTs) – certificates of ownership of an artwork that are stored on a “blockchain” similar to the technology used to secure cryptocurrencies.

In the file’s description, the surgeon wrote that the young woman he had operated on had “lost her boyfriend in the attack” on the Bataclan concert hall, the focus of the November 2015 gun and bomb assault in which jihadists killed 130 people.

The X-Ray image never sold for the asking price of $2,776, and was removed from Opensea after being revealed by investigative website Mediapart in January.

Masmejean claimed at a September court hearing that he had been carrying out an “experiment” by putting a “striking and historic medical image” online – while acknowledging that it had been “idiocy, a mistake, a blunder”.

The court did not find him guilty of two further charges of abuse of personal data and illegally revealing harmful personal information.

Nor was he barred from practicing as prosecutors had urged, with the lead judge saying it would be “disproportionate and inappropriate” to inflict such a “social death” on the doctor.

The victim’s lawyer Elodie Abraham complained of a “politically correct” judgement.

“It doesn’t bother anyone that there’s been such a flagrant breach of medical secrecy. It’s not a good message for doctors,” Abraham said.

Neither Masmejean, who has been suspended from his hospital job, nor the victim were present for Wednesday’s ruling.

The surgeon may yet face professional consequences after appearing before the French medical association in September, his lawyer Ivan Terel said.