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Archive for the ‘French media’ Category

Graffiti protest in the 2007 French elections

Graffiti protest in the 2007 French elections

Infamous leader of the French far right, Jean-Marie Le Pen, has predicted that Griffin’s appearance on Question Time will boost the Brit’s popularity. Certainly Le Pen’s own performance on a similar French chat show proved a great boon for him.

Before he appeared on the prime-time show L’Heure de Vérité in 1984, his Front National had seen little press coverage and was polling at 3.5 %. Afterwards, they went on to score 11% in the European elections that year.

No wonder Le Pen called his TV stint “the hour that changed everything” and said the BNP “could now enjoy a surge in support” in an interview with the Evening Standard this week.

And his heure de vérité in 1984 was only the start. Le Pen went on to shock the French nation by coming second in the French presidential race in 2002, beating the former prime minister Lionel Jospin.

So far, so bad. But if we’re truly to understand the impact that Griffin’s Question Time performance might have, we need to look at what happened after Le Pen’s first round success in the 2002 elections.

Le Pen was totally trounced in the second round, winning 18% of the vote to Jacques Chirac’s 82%. Determined to stop the nightmare scenario of Le Pen Le Président, even voters who despised Chirac were prepared to, as the slogan ran: “Vote for the criminal, not the fascist.” (Chirac was suspected of corruption at that time).

More interesting was the “Le Pen effect” in the 2007 elections. There was an exceptional turnout of 84%, with 8 million more people voting than in 2002.  As a French friend of mine explained at the time:

I’m not particularly enamoured with either Sarko or Ségo but I’m determined to exercise my right to vote. We can’t have another embarrassment like 2002.

Success can be a double-edged sword for extreme parties. More people voting for them – or perceived to be voting for them – will lead more moderate voters who had been wavering to cast their ballots against them.

In Le Pen’s case 2002 also proved to be his peak. A million fewer people voted for him in 2007  and he came fourth in the first round. He’s now back on the fringes where he belongs.

So perhaps we can hope that the BNP’s success in the recent European elections and Griffin’s raised profile thanks to Question Time will actually be his downfall in the long term. Perhaps the spectre of an emboldened BNP will push more of us to vote than the mere 61% who turn out last time.

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Cannes Film Festival 2009     

Cannes Film Festival 2009

We’re half way through that stellar event on any film buff’s calendar – the Festival de Cannes – and you might be, like me, disappointed about the minimal coverage it gets in the English-speaking press. So here’s five French language blogs on the festival I’d like to share with you:

Don’t be fooled by the English sounding titles, Because We Cannes Cannes Cannes and In The Mood For Cannes are two great blogs en français. The first, from the Film de Culte webzine team (who you can also follow on Twitter), mixes up longer features, focusing for example on the president of this year’s film jury Isabelle Huppert,with picture posts and overview lists. The second is written by screenwriter and film critic Sandra Mézière, who takes us on a more personal journey through the festival.  

If the côté “people” (as the French like to call celebrities) is more your thing, try the AlloCiné Cannes blog for photos and Le Buzz and Pure People for gossip, videos and more.

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When I was in Paris last week my cousin introduced me to Books, a new literary magazine which comes out once a month in France. 

I was at first sceptical about a French magazine with an English title. Like many other English francophiles, I am a hypocrite: I delight in using French but find it a little irritating when the French use English words because they think it makes them look branchés.   

But I was won over by the editorial column on the first page, which declared:

Le magazine que vous avez entre les mains se propose d’éclairer les sujets du jour et la condition humaine en utilisant la lumière des livres.

And Books does just that. The magazine is not simply a collection of reviews and essays (although it does do these very well). Each month as well as covering regular topics such as politics, religion and the sciences, it also takes a different issue and examines it in depth. Last month it was “Inde: la démocratie miraculeuse”.

Books purposefully steps back and takes a long term view of things through the telescope of literature. Think Prospect crossed with a literary review in French.

The magazine is delivered all over the world, so you can become a subscriber no matter where you live. Or, get your French literary fix from its website, which has blogs from writers such as digital books expert  Jean Louis de Montesquiou and interesting features such as bestsellers, where lists of bestsellers from countries around the world are given.  

Happy reading.

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This French Life website

Craig Mcginty

 

 

I recently spoke to Craig Mcginty, the man behind the popular This French Life website for some advice about blogging in general and more particularly, blogging for francophiles. I thought I should share his tips with you. If you’re interested, click on the audio clip below. 

Interview with Craig Mcginty

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TH!NK ABOUT IT EU blogging competition

TH!NK ABOUT IT EU blogging competition

 

In my last post I spoke about the negative way in which the British press portrays the EU. With this in mind, I was interested to learn that some of my course mates are taking part in a competition designed to encourage bloggers to express  their views about the European Union in the run up to the June 2009 European parliamentary elections.  

Participating in the European Journalism Centre’s TH!NK ABOUT IT competition are 81 bloggers from the 27 EU members states. Their blogs don’t give a simplistic view of the EU but instead treat specific campaign issues in depth. Among those representing Britain are City University bloggers Katrina Bishop, Etan Smallman and David Christopher. For a French view, see Jean Sebastien Lefebvre’s TH!NK ABOUT IT blog.

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 Originally uploaded by Don Gru

A couple of weeks ago I blogged about the difference in the way the British and French press cover the European Union. I don’t want to harp on about the same subject but this week I came across an example of this which is too good not to share.

Last Sunday EU leaders held a meeting ahead of next month’s G20 summit with the hope of agreeing on a shared response to the economic downturn. If you read about it the next day in the British and French press you might think they were describing two different events.

A double page spread in The Times, under the heading “Suspicion and self interest behind European Union rift” painted a picture of great discord. As well as a graphic illustration of divided Europe, the article concentrated on the aspects which separated the leaders:

“The meeting was overshadowed by a cacophony of competing interests and the rejection of a cry for help from Eastern Europe, even though delegates agreed in a final statement to cooperate and fight protectionism.”

In complete contrast, many of the French newspapers chose to focus on the fact the EU leaders agreed to reject protectionism. To give just one example, A Libération blogger chose to end his post, “Union européenne: l’ouest réaffirme sa solidarité avec l’est face à la crise”, with the following quote:

“Les Vingt-sept ont fermement souligné que « le protectionnisme n’est pas la réponse à la crise actuelle.”

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At a lecture at City University yesterday, media commentator Roy Greenslade blamed Britain’s press for the British public’s continuing negative attitude towards Europe.

He pointed out that the papers rarely covered the goings on of the EU and that when the EU did hit the headlines it was often portrayed in a negative light.

According to Greenslade there are two competing narratives advanced by Euroskeptic Fleet Street: Underlying most news stories is either the assumption that there is a Franco- German conspiracy to run the EU together or the assumption that the EU is a sham because individual nations are constantly at each other’s throats.

Certainly the big EU story of the moment is the Czech President’s call for an EU summit to prevent French “protectionist” measures. The move came after Sarkozy announced a €6.5bn rescue package for French carmakers and said that they should consider relocating their plants in the Czech Republic back to France.

The difference in the coverage of the events by the French and British media is really interesting and seems to offer a good example of Greenslade’s thesis. While the Brits tended to focus on Czech- French tensions (see this article in the BBC for one example), the French looked at how the European Commission was investigating the matter first, and Czech accusations only second (see this article in L’Express).

Perhaps I’m reading too much into this one event. What do you think? Is the British media’s EU coverage too negative? Is the French media’s coverage any better?

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