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L'EQUIPE DES CONS CHAMPIONS JOURNALISTIC PRIVILEGE
Emboldened by the results of recent attacks against defenseless athletes, the sports journal is said to be championing a new standard for ethical behavior in journalism.
In a recent article discussing the leak of confidential test results, L'Equipe des Cons (LdC) affirmed with moral certitude, “The declarations of Mr. Dick Pound and the UCI regarding the source of documents published in the LdD on August 23 only relate to those individuals. Investigative journalism entails a certain number of basic rules such as journalist-source confidentiality. LdC will not deviate from that rule.”
Later, the LdC declared that by making such a statement, “We have demonstrated that journalistic rigor and ethical reviews do not need to be fundamental elements of mainstream French press. Furthermore, we have shown that journalist-source confidentiality can be leveraged to actually provide needed cover to promote such behavior."
“We would like to see these practices enshrined in a new ethical standard that stands to revolutionize journalism as we know it.” To accomplish this, the LdC has approached the French Ministry of Justice authorities to seek exemptions in libel and slander laws to protect itself and its sources.
Journalistic Privileges Needed
LdC lawyers explained. “The goal of most legal privilege is to foster open communication in circumstances which society wants to encourage such communication. The national obsession to bring down the American athlete who dominated a French sport for seven years is more than ample justification”.
However, current libel laws, especially those abroad, could prevent journalists from making full use of exemptions relating to fair treatment of celebrities, athletes and other public persons. These privileges are especially important to protect journalists and their sources against malicious attacks from slandered parties.
The new legislation, tentatively named the Journalist Freedom to Defame Act (JFDA), would effectively close those loopholes.
Current Standards Too Restrictive, Time Consuming
LdC explained that upholding source rigor and ethical standards is both time consuming and costly. This legislation would change that and allow our journalists to report news more creatively as exemplified in the recent Armstrong pieces involving the disclosure of test results failing to meet established ethical standards of international bodies.
The French Journalist Standards Board, which meets every decade, also commented from their offices in New Caledonia. “This legislation would finally allow us to bring French “Egalité” (equality) to all news sources. Think of it as putting Paris Match and Le Monde or The National Enquirer and The New York Times on the same level. The legislation will provide new opportunities for newspapers stymied by the requirements of journalistic rigor and help avoid public confusion caused by the current situation where varying standards exists.” Representatives were also enthusiastic that the new legislation is expected to save considerable resources now spent on fact checking, source vetting and editorial oversight, and require French journalists to work only 20 hours a week instead of the backbreaking 25 hours needed to comply with current standards.
Use French Model for Developing Countries
French authorities hope that this legislation can be used as a model for European and International guidelines as well. “Just think how much money developing countries could save on reporting the news by employing the provisions of the JFDA. They would then have more resources to spend on other, more essential services.” The French Ambassador to the United Nations, Jean-Marc de la Sabliere will introduce the concept with much fanfare at the upcoming World Summit on the Information Society this November 16-18 in Tunisia.