Posts Tagged ‘Charlie Hebdo’

We Are Still Charlie

French political cartoonist Jean-Marc Héran displays his work inside a bookstore in the French city of Aix-en-Provence. Courtesy of Kami Rice

French political cartoonist Jean-Marc Héran displays his work inside a bookstore in the French city of Aix-en-Provence.
Courtesy of Kami Rice.

I wasn’t sure whether I was supposed to be watching, but it was too intriguing not to. Tucked away yesterday in a corner of the front terrace of the Librarie Goulard, one of the bookstores lining Aix-en-Provence’s storied Cours Mirabeau, Jean-Marc Héran was drawing. And I was watching over his shoulder from a few feet away.

I could only see the side of his face, so I can’t be certain, but it certainly looked like he was smiling and amusing himself as the idea emerged and he drew, hand covered in a drawing glove and moving over the tablet computer on the desk while the image appeared on the larger monitor in front of him.

He was an artist, and a journalist, at work.

It was a rare window into one spoke of the wheel of the journalism world I’m a part of too – and it was a particularly poignant window. Here I was, freely watching a French political cartoonist at work just months after others of his ilk were murdered because of what their drawings said.

Both Héran and I were there on this southern France bookstore’s terrace because of World Press Freedom Day, a day proclaimed by the UN General Assembly in 1993. Between Héran’s tucked-away desk and the street, the space underneath the large plane tree in the center of the terrace was filled with a crew broadcasting the day’s 15 hours of programming. It was all slated to run live on and partner channels, but technical difficulties rendered the interviews to availability online, during World Press Freedom Day.

Passing before the cameras and microphones were various stripes of journalists, including Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist François Mitten, and others with something to say about press freedom. The event included evening concerts and two artists painting new canvases.

An artist works on a press freedom painting during World Press Freedom Day celebrations in Aix-en-Provence, France. Courtesy of Kami Rice.

For most of the day, the crew members outnumbered the handfuls of spectators who paused in their wanderings along the wide boulevard that is a center of all that happens in Aix. But for Bernard Beka, a veteran war reporter who organized the event in partnership with Reporters Without Borders, if even just eight people listened and were touched by what they heard, then that would suffice.

He noted the presence of a budding 12-year-old journalist and the importance of getting these messages to the next generation.

Jean-Jacques Lumbroso, another of the broadcast’s organizers, echoed Beka in noting that a day like this is for the citizens more than for journalists.

And Héran, the political cartoonist, said that, while in his line of work it is always freedom-of-the-press day, a special day for calling everyone’s attention to the essentialness of a free press is important if we are to get people to listen and take notice. We can’t forget, he said, that there are journalists imprisoned around the world, people who are killed, and people who can’t express themselves.

Kami L. Rice is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists International Community. Previously based in Nashville, Tenn., she has been living in southern France since 2012, continuing her work as a freelance journalist and editor. Her work has appeared in more than 50 online and print publications, and she has reported from more than 15 different countries. You can follow her on twitter (@KamiTheWriter) or visit her website ( for more info.


Press freedom orgs react to massacre of journalists in Paris

The Society of Professional Journalists International Community joins the worldwide outcry against the murder of 12 journalists in Paris Tuesday.

Masked gunmen entered the offices of the French weekly satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo the morning of Jan. 7, opening fire with semiautomatic weapons on staff, including prominent editors and cartoonists of the publication, according to a New York Times article.

Media outlets report the attack came from Muslim extremists as a result of the paper’s satirical depictions of Prophet Muhammad.

“Extremists feel emboldened to attack and kill journalists anywhere in the world for lampooning religion or reporting on political and governmental activities,” said SPJ President Dana Neuts. “Such outrageous attempts to silence journalists will not be tolerated or successful.” (Read full SPJ statement here)

French President Francois Hollande described the attack as an act of terrorism and vowed to protect freedom of speech in the nation.

“No barbaric act will ever extinguish freedom of the press,” Hollande said in a statement on his official Facebook page. “We are a country which will unite and stand together.”

The Committee to Protect Journalists described the shooting as “the worst attack on the media since the 2009 Maguindanao massacre in the Philippines,” where 57 people, most of them journalists, were killed by gunmen while en route to cover a local election.

“An attack of this nature in Paris shows that threats against freedom of expression are global, no region is safe from it,” CPJ posted on twitter, while also changing its profile picture to a black background with the words “Je Suis Charlie” (I am Charlie) printed across.

Since 2011, the offices of Charlie Hebdo have been under police protection after the paper was fire-bombed shortly after publishing a cartoon depicting Prophet Muhammad, according to the French-based agency Reporters Without Borders (Reporters Sans Frontiers).

“This terrorist attack marks a black day in the history of France,” said Reporters Without Borders Secretary General Christophe Deloire, who was at the scene of the shooting.

SPJ member Jennifer Karchmer, who lives in Montpellier, France, and happens to be visiting a fellow journalist in Paris, shared her account of the day’s events:

“We’ve learned the city is under high alert but are considering attending a public demonstration being held at Place de la Republique,” Karchmer said. “We are watching CNN international news and monitoring social media.

“I am in touch with friends in the south of France where I live in Montpellier and they are attending demonstrations to condemn the attacks. The entire country is worried, shocked and responding. The French do not miss a beat. A list of cities with planned demonstrations was published soon after the attacks.”

Karchmer, who has worked as a correspondent for Reporters Without Borders, said today’s shootings are “an egregious attack on freedom of speech and freedom of information.”

“Working in France would seem a safe place to publish and print, yet after today, we realize we are living under new pressures to censor information,” she said.

More comments on the attack from press freedom organizations around the world:


Twitter Facebook Google Plus RSS Instagram Pinterest Pinterest LinkedIn

© Society of Professional Journalists. All rights reserved. Legal

Society of Professional Journalists
Eugene S. Pulliam National Journalism Center, 3909 N. Meridian St., Indianapolis, IN 46208
317/927-8000 | Fax: 317/920-4789 | Contact SPJ Headquarters | Employment Opportunities | Advertise with SPJ