March 28, 2006

French protests get violent

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One of the most remarkable pieces of television news in some time is taking place right now on BBC News 24. Jon Sopel is live in the Place de la Republique, on a hotel balcony, offering what is effectively football commentary on violent confrontations between riot police and a small group of protesters.

There seems to be two protests going on similtaneously – a peaceful protest about the French government's new youth employment laws passed this month, and – at the other end of the square – a small hardcore of rioters who are sporadically attacking the police. It all seems to have started at around 4pm.

The BBC have several cameras feeding in so Jon Sopel can literally pick out a skirmish and have it covered very well.

And as a late edition, this website has put up some pictures of 'the fearless Jon Sopel' really getting in the thick of it

He had retired to a balcony before I tuned in but the pictures suggest it was the most memorable piece of rolling news in a while…

On the left he's dodging missiles and in the right shot he is being confronted by an angry protester…keep your cool Jon boy!

The Fearless Jon Sopel

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  1. Other notable notables watching tonights 6 O'clock news:

    A terribly presented special report about tazers, sounded like it was read by a child.

    And David Silletto's report on the Ofcom advert ban beginning with a shot of a clock showing the time 3.15
    David "It's quarter past four and kids are in front of the television…

    28 Mar 2006, 18:22

  2. This is surreal. I wish I understood the situation better.

    28 Mar 2006, 18:38

  3. And I think Paul makes a brilliant point there…

    The coverage on BBC News 24 made for fantastic television… Jon Sopel is an expert on British and French politics, and the pictures were amazing to see.

    BUT… there wasn't enough context. We were watching voyeuristically simply because we love a good fight, especially when it's not on home soil (and especially when the French are having another civil war).

    But the coverage would have been immensely better if there were correspondents elsewhere in France so we could see the difference between the inner-cities where people from the suburbs had risen against their government, and the rest of the country where people were protesting with far more civility.

    As it was, it was one of the most fascinating things I've seen this week (Planet Earth on BBC 1 is obviously another), but the opportunity to illuminate the audience was missed, and the coverage appealed to our baser instincts.

    28 Mar 2006, 18:54

  4. I don't think that's quite fair..I think it's a bain of rolling news as much as anything else, and Jon Sopel was at pains to remind us that the rioters were just one part of a larger peaceful protest.

    Compare it to Clive Myers report on the 6oclock news – an edited report no less – that sensationalised the riots, not mentioning the peaceful protesters until near the end.

    You're right though Chris that a view from other towns throughout France should have been shown.

    28 Mar 2006, 20:25

  5. Channel 4 went to Montmartre and asked the French people there what they thought of the riots and the government. A much needed perspective.

    Clive Myrie meanwhile has just come back from Washington, so maybe the exuberant Americans have influenced his reporting-style?!

    28 Mar 2006, 20:33

  6. Who knows, he was certainly wearing a fetching scarf.

    28 Mar 2006, 22:09

  7. I can't believe I missed this!

    Jon Sopel is an example to us all…

    29 Mar 2006, 14:07

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Warwick graduate, slowly morphing into a broadcast journalist at City University in London. Expect articles about media and world affairs on this page, plus my futile attempts at get-rich-quick schemes.

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