Macron criticised on French front page; journalist is then suspended

  • Post last modified:March 22, 2024
  • Reading time:6 mins read

The news editor of regional daily La Provence in France has been suspended after a front-page headline critical of President Emmanuel Macron was published – causing outrage across the newsroom.

Macron: drug dealers are better than him?

Macron recently launched a major operation against drug trafficking in the southern port city of Marseille and elsewhere. He said that gangland battles that last year left dozens dead had made life a misery for residents.

Following Macron’s Marseille visit, La Provence Daily published a front page on Thursday 21 March showing two people, presumably drug dealers, watching a police patrol. The accompanying headline said “He’s gone, but we’re still here”:

On the basis of the front page, La Provence‘s news editor Aurelien Viers was suspended for failing to follow its “values and editorial line”, according to the paper’s managing editor Gabriel d’Harcourt.

In an article To Our Readers published Friday 22 March, d’Harcourt said that the front-page quote and picture:

could lead people to believe that we agree to give drug dealers a voice so they can mock the public authority.

Hang on La Provence

However, in an article inside La Provence, the front-page quote was actually attributed to a resident of a poor Marseille neighbourhood, named only as Brahim. They said that the city:

found the means necessary to protect the president during his visit. He’s gone, but we’re still here, in the same hell.

D’Harcourt said his paper’s coverage of the visit had been “very good”, except for the front page:

where you get the impression that we’re spokespeople for the dealers… [the front page was] contrary to our roles and the role we want to play in Marseille and the surrounding region.

Let’s be real: it is highly unlikely that anyone who read La Provence‘s front page thought that it was endorsing drug dealers over Macron.


SNJ, the main union at La Provence, told Agence France-Presse (AFP) that the paper’s journalists were “scandalised” by Viers’s suspension.

A general staff assembly would decide on any protest action, it said. By 5pm on 22 March, La Provence‘s website said:

Due to a social movement by the Editorial Team, we would like to inform you of the non-publication of today’s newspaper.

That is, it appears staff walked out.

On X, people were calling the situation out for what it seemed to be:

La Provence, published in Marseille, has a daily circulation of around 70,000. It is owned by CMA CGM Medias, which belongs to Rodolphe Saade, a Franco-Lebanese billionaire businessman. Saade, who has other high-profile media interests, this week announced that he would also buy Altice Media, which owns broadcasters BFMTV and RMC.

Sacré bleu!

Asked during an Altice staff meeting whether he would seek to censor unfavourable news about his media interests, Saade replied:

I wouldn’t like it, and I would let that be known… [But] I wouldn’t interfere.

Take what you will from that.

Additional reporting via Agence France-Presse

Featured image via Know Your Meme – screengrab

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