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Macron riles French media with reporter ban

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Macron riles French media with reporter ban
Photo: AFP
14:49 CEST+02:00
President Emmanuel Macron has had his first major spat with the media since taking power, after his team imposed restrictions on which journalists could travel with him on a trip to visit French troops stationed in west Africa.

The move, which echoes similar conflicts over media coverage of Donald Trump’s presidency in the United States, sparked an angry joint response by more than 20 of the country’s top media outlets, including Le Monde newspaper, Agence France-Presse and state-owned broadcaster France 3.

"In no case must the Elysee decide on those of us who are entitled or not to cover a visit, whatever the theme is," they wrote in an open letter which was also signed by the press freedom group Reporters
Without Borders.

It said none of Macron's predecessors at the Elysée had singled out reporters to accompany them on trips and said it was not up to the president or his staff to decide on "the internal functioning of the media organizations, their coverage choices and their approach."

The protest came after Macron’s office called media organisations to invite specific journalists who would be able to cover his first official trip outside of Europe, which on Friday was taking him to visit French troops deployed in Mali to help fight radical Islamists in west Africa.

Officials said that having a media scrum following the president’s every move often hampered his communication with the people he met, and that the plan was to invite journalists who specialised in the theme that was central to each trip.

Government spokesman Christophe Castaner later insisted that both he and the president were committed to letting journalists do their jobs.

“I’m taking note of your concerns and I will pass them on,” he told reporters.

Reporters Without Borders, which puts France in 39th position in its 2017 world press freedom index, said that the restrictions could be used as a way to pressure media.

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