French news editor suspended over Macron headline reinstated

AFP , Sunday 24 Mar 2024

The news editor of a regional French daily suspended after a front-page headline referring to President Emmanuel Macron is to return to work, the newspaper's management said Sunday.

La Provence newspaper
French newspaper La Provence belongs to Franco-Lebanese billionaire businessman Rodolphe Saade. AFP


"The management of La Province is happy to announce an agreement with Aurelien Viers," said a statement from La Provence newspaper, adding that he would be back at work on Monday.

Following Macron's visit to Marseille last week to launch a major drive against drug trafficking, the daily published a front page showing two people watching a police patrol, with the headline "He's gone, but we're still here".

La Provence's news editor Aurelien Viers was suspended for a week for failing to follow the paper's "values and editorial line", managing editor Gabriel d'Harcourt said Friday.

Management considered the front-page quote and picture might appear to "mock public authority".

But that decision was revised following a meeting between Viers and D'Harcourt, said Sunday's statement.

His suspension had led to a vote to strike at the paper in protest at what a union representative dubbed "an inadmissible act of editorial interference" by management.

Staff at other titles likewise owned by CGM Medias, which belongs to Franco-Lebanese billionaire businessman Rodolphe Saade, had backed the strike action.

La Provence staff will go ahead, however, with a Monday meeting outside the journal's headquarters as "various questions remain," a representative of the SNJ, the main union at the paper, told AFP.

They maintain that there was no problem with the headline that led to Viers's suspensions. It had quoted a resident of the impoverished Marseille housing estate who was interviewed on an inside page.

Sunday's management statement, which included an apology for the paper not appearing Saturday, Sunday and Monday, explained that the headline quote "was put on the front page without being explicitly sourced."

This, the statement added, was "problematic, as some readers believed this quote came from drug traffickers".

La Provence, published in Marseille, has a daily circulation of around 62,000.

Short link: