PARIS — As France pays homage to victims of the attack that decimated the newsroom of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo with a national day of mourning, local media outlets dedicated a large part of their programming to cover the aftermath of the mass shooting.
Every French news publication, leading with Le Monde, Liberation and Le Figaro, meticulously covered the attack as well as its political and social implications. Le Monde, Radio France and pubcaster France Televisions have vowed to keep Charlie Hebdo alive. The magazine’s next edition will come out next week in 1 million copies. Another satirical publication, Le Canard Enchaine, has also joined the solidarity movement.
Coverage focused on the tracking down of two main suspects, Said Kouachi and Cherif Kouachi, who reportedly robbed a gas station in the north of France this morning and have just been located near Paris, according to local reports. The suspects’ car was also found.
Media outlets also covered the meeting between President Francois Hollande and former prexy Nicolas Sarkozy, a symbol of bipartisan unity. Deputies gathered in the front of the National Assembly and sang the national anthem, the Marseillaise.
As depicted in reports, the city of Paris has been placed under a maximum security watch — called Plan Vigipirate — but that didn’t prevent another random shooting this morning in the southern suburb of Montrouge. A man, who shot and killed a policeman and injured another person, fled the scene. Several mosques have also been vandalized throughout France.
A second demonstration had been planned this evening but has been postponed to Sunday because of security threats. A minute of silence was observed throughout the country earlier today.
The British media gave blanket coverage to the Charlie Hebdo shooting and followed the manhunt and the demonstrations around France in-depth.
The most extensive coverage was provided by the BBC, which had several correspondents on the ground at locations in and around Paris, including the Charlie Hebdo offices; Reims, where the prime suspects lived; the gas station near Villers-Cotterets that was allegedly robbed by the murderers; the scene of Thursday’s attack in Montrouge; and the Place de la Republique, where demonstrators gathered.
The BBC, like other media outlets, also interviewed representatives of the large Muslim community in the U.K., as well as leading British cartoonists and commentators, such as historian Tom Holland, who was one of those who tweeted Charlie Hebdo’s cartoon of the Islamic prophet Muhammad.
The BBC frequently showed the video of the gunmen fleeing after the attack on magazine office in Paris, but blurred the image of the injured police officer on the sidewalk, who was then shot by one of the gunmen.
The upmarket newspapers focused on the wider lessons of the attack, such as the Guardian newspaper, which ran with the front-page headline “An Assault on Democracy,” and the Daily Telegraph, which had the front-page headline “War on Freedom.”
The mass-market tabloids all ran the photo of the injured police officer pleading for his life on the sidewalk outside the Charlie Hebdo offices. The Sun’s headline was “Non!” with a sub-headline that read: “This evil in the name of Islam must stop.”
In Italy, the most notable media reactions in the massacre’s aftermath were an unusual tweet from the Pope and predictions that French writer Michel Houellebecq’s new novel “Soumission” will be the book of the year.
Houellebecq and his book, which imagines France in 2022 with a Muslim president and a repressive regime, were both on the cover of the last issue of Charlie Hebdo magazine before Wednesday’s attack. The incendiary tome, which was officially launched in France on Wednesday by French publisher Flammarion, is due out in Italy on Jan. 15 via Bompiani Editore.
“The latest novel by the controversial and popular French author, who is now under tight security, is getting an amount of publicity — whether he likes it or not — which goes well beyond the already major clamor prompted by each of this books over the past 15 years,” noted left-leaning Italo daily Il Fatto Quotidiano.
Houellebacq attended last year’s Venice Film Festival as protag of low-budget Gallic pic “Near Death Experience” by eclectic directorial duo Gustave Kervern and Benoit Delepine. In “Death,” he plays a burned-out suicidal sad sack who works in a call center.
Pope Francis, after praying for the victims of the Paris shootout during morning mass on Thursday, sent out a tweet on his @Pontifex account with the hashtag “#prayersforparis,” in what is considered a first for the pontiff’s social-media usage.
— Pope Francis (@Pontifex) January 8, 2015
While reactions in Italy’s film community are quite muted, the country’s journalists and media orgs will be holding a candlelight vigil in front of the French embassy in Rome Thursday evening in a show of solidarity for the victims and to defend freedom of expression.
In Spain — a country that has born much of the brunt of terrorism in Western Europe (Basque separatist movement ETA claimed the lives of over 800 victims from 1961) and which re-established press freedoms less than 40 years ago — the country’s media reacted energetically Thursday to the tragedy.
Last night in Madrid, a crowd of several hundred gathered outside the French Embassy to condemn the terrorist attack and express their support for the French ambassador, Jerome Bonnafont, with cries of “Todos somos Charlie.” Bonnafont thanked government and opposition spokespersons and Spanish journalist association reps for their support.
Footage from the attack led national newscasts on all major networks last night. Leading today’s print edition with an article emblazoned “Terrorist Attack on Press Freedom in the Heart of Europe,” El Pais, the most influential of Spanish daily newspapers, currently dedicates the first 10 articles on its website to the attack and its aftermath.
“Satire, humor, criticism have written the best story of humanity because they have contributed in each stage of our evolution to making people freer,” wrote filmmaker and regular El Pais columist David Trueba, director of Spain’s Oscar submission, “Living Is Easy With Eyes Closed.”
Leo Barraclough, John Hopewell and Nick Vivarelli contributed to this report.