French media pull photos of attackers to stop ‘hero’ effect

Le Monde said it would no longer publish photographs of killers to avoid giving them "posthumous glorification".

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Some leading French media outlets pledged Wednesday to stop publishing the names and images of attackers linked to ISIS to prevent individuals from being inadvertently glorified, following a spate of attacks in France over the past 18 months.

The decisions, part of a wider French debate about how the news media might be contributing to the extremist threat, come as the French parliament debates whether to enshrine in law restrictions on the way the news media can cover “terrorist acts.”


The director of Le Monde, Jerome Fenoglio, said in an editorial that his newspaper would stop publishing photographs of attackers in a bid to prevent the “possible posthumous glorifying effects” and called for news media to exercise more responsibility. The newspaper already has a ban on publishing extracts of Islamic State propaganda or claims of responsibility emitted from IS’s media wing.

The newspaper said it decided on the ban after this month’s truck attack on a Nice fireworks display and also to the memory of the Rev. Jacques Hamel, the 85-year-old priest who was slain Tuesday in a hostage-taking in a church near Rouen.

Television station BFM-TV also said it will no longer broadcast images of attackers’ faces. BFM was heavily criticized in January 2015 for its coverage of a deadly attack on a Jewish supermarket in Paris in which four hostages were killed. Six survivors, who were hiding in the supermarket, accused the channel of endangering their lives by revealing the location of their hideout live on air.

Radio Europe-1 also said it would no longer read out “terrorists’ names” to “stop them being turned into heroes.”

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