What is the future of international reporting?

[Read this column in French]

After the release of journalists Hervé Ghesquière and Stéphane Taponnier, the mediation office received a large number of e-mails, allowing us to measure television viewers’ high regard for international reporting.

 Although this type of journalism was most often qualified as being “necessary” and “indispensable,” there are other issues at stake, including the inherent risk and the challenges of reporting in zones of active conflict. These issues were raised repeatedly in the e-mails we received during the 18 months our colleagues were held hostage.

 “Keep fighting so that citizens here know what’s happening over there.” Nathalie G.

 “How can we know what’s happening in certain dictatorships without brave men and women who dare to cross the borders?” Gérard N.

 “No country should fall through the cracks. Going out in the field is of capital importance.” Patricia E.

“It’s important that we keep the journalist’s perspective, especially given the endless stream of images we have at our disposal.” Léa F.

“The mission and duty of international reporters is to provide an account. What they do is a central component to democracy.” Malik D.

“International reporting provides added value to the quality of the information we received, which makes it useful and necessary.”
Sybille P.

“Can we run the risk of going into a country at war, where everyone knows hostages are being taken?” Louise P.

It is encouraging to read comments like these, especially in a context that is becoming increasingly difficult, as demonstrated in the Votre Télé et Vous investigation into the future of international reporting.

Marieke Aucante sat down with:

– Anne Nivat, independent international correspondent and author of “Les brouillards de la guerre. Dernière mission en Afghanistan” [“The Fogs of War. Final Mission in Afghanistan”], to be released in October 2011 by Broché.

– Marc Epstein, editor in chief, foreign desk, L’Express.

– and Alain Mingam, photojournalist.

 In addition to budgetary constraints, international reporting has been profoundly affected by the virtual information revolution. The ubiquity of the Internet and mobile phones means that no conflict occurs without images. Information networks have become indispensable communication tools in dictatorships like Syria, or the budding revolutions of the Arab Spring.

 But the fear remains that “armchair” journalism will gain ground, to the detriment of in-country journalism. Photojournalism has already suffered a similar fate. Unless there is a hot news story to report on, traveling internationally is becoming increasingly difficult for journalists.

And yet, faced with an endless stream of images from every medium, TV viewers want more explanations for what they are seeing—they want someone to put it all in perspective.

 International reporting must keep providing this added value.

 “Above all, international reporting is a viewpoint.” Bertrand G.

 “It is only by being as close as possible on the ground that you can cover all sides of an event.” Aline T.

 “Go—go see so you can tell us and keep us informed.” Alain A.


 The focus of our conversation in the studio, these questions are all the more pertinent given the importance of the news since the beginning of the year.


 We will have three TV viewers who will discuss and debate these issues:


 Nathalie Gelé. Regional Editor. La Chapelle Heulin (44)

Renée Ortells.Nurse. Villalier (11)

Patricia Ettouati.Submarine operations chief. Hyères (83)

 And three experts who will respond:


 Hervé Ghesquière. International correspondent. France 3 national newsroom

Loïc Le Moigne. Video journalist. France 3 national newsroom

Jean-Claude Guillebaud. Journalist and writer. Winner of the Albert Londres Prizein 1972



Two in-depth reports expand the debate on whether journalists really need to travel in-country.


The first report, by Hervé Ghésquière in 2003, covers the arrest and treatment of Iraqi prisoners in the Abu Ghraib prison.


The second is a report done in 2007 by Loïc Le Moigne and Hervé Dinault in Darfur.


Both the bonus material and the full program are available at: http://info.france3.fr/mediateur/

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