Posts about french

Lost in translation

Bertrand Pecquerie, director of the World Editors Forum, has long had a political agenda about the U.S. and its press (as well as bloggers — whom he has called McCarthyite). At’s Public Eye, he lays out that agenda a little more clearly than probably even he knows, as he asks whether American journalism is self-destructing. A sample:

Why does this model seem to be dying today? First, I cannot help but emphasize the collateral victim of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks: American “mainstream” journalism. Everything that was positive – prosperity, diversity, credibility, the struggle for power – quickly turned negative simply because American media, and not just Fox News, transformed itself into a war machine alongside the Bush administration. From one day to the next, a “media nationalism” made them lose their critical spirit.

Go ahead and roll that fine French whine around on the palate and pick up the nuance. Taint of vinegar, eh? Pecquerie can’t stand anything that isn’t critical of Bush; that’s what this is about. But he also despises the democratization of the press. See how he goes after blogs:

What worries me most is the process of self-destruction into which American journalism seems to be falling since the wave of grassroots or “citizen journalism.” It is very difficult to understand how theories such as “news is no longer a lecture but a conversation” and “breaking news is the beginning, not the end of the news process” have imposed themselves on the media scene….

What surprises me the most is the ease with which the American journalistic community has accepted this process of self-weakening and, in the long term, self-destruction. Why doesn’t anybody dispute Dan Gillmor and Jeff Jarvis? Who will contest these theories, which could very well be just another “Internet bubble?” Who doesn’t see that under the new cover of “virtual democracy,” real democracy is being weakened?

Evil wizards that Dan and I are. Don’t flatter me, Bertrand. I’m just riding this train.

In the U.S., people blog but they don’t vote. Virtual democracy doesn’t seem to have any affect on real democracy. In Europe, we vote (last week’s elections in Italy, for instance, had an 83% voter turnout), but we blog in the political sense very little. Which democracy is the most vibrant?

Hmmm. And in France, they riot and burn and strike when they see a law they don’t like. Which democracy is the most vibrant?

Sorry, but here in the U.S., we call that a softball.

Ah, the French

So I am in France getting ready to give a business presentation at a ritzy allegedly Leading Hotel of the World and I have spent four hours trying to get any of their internet connections to work: weefee — aka wi-fi — is broken at the phone company with absolutely no customer service for a service that charges 30 euros per day; the hotel network does not work; I cannot use DSL because I do not have a French account; I finally said I was going to turn into the Ugly American and have a fit to get someone on the hotel staff to just figure it out. Still nothing. I would go into amusing, theatrical detail but the only means I have of getting onto the internet to whine to you has a French keyboard where qwerty becomes azerty, just to be different, and the period key requires using shift — confirming my long-held suspicion that, indeed, the French never do come to a period in their nonstop sentences. And I am about to go berserk on jetlag and frustration. So insert your own joke about why the French are a third-world country here: _____________________

: LATER: Someone woke up at the French telcom and access is working. Our next challenge was to find a projector in a hotel and land still dominated by — I swear — overhead projectors. Welcome to 1972.