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“It’s an affront to our independence”: General assembly in Provence after the dismissal of the editorial director

New shocks in the Marseille newspaper Provence.

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“It’s an affront to our independence”: General assembly in Provence after the dismissal of the editorial director

New shocks in the Marseille newspaper Provence. After the strike led by journalists to contest job cuts last November, employees of the daily owned by the shipowner Rodolphe Saadé are currently meeting for a new general assembly. This time, to contest the one-week layoff of their editorial director, Aurélien Viers.

“Following the front page of Provence on Thursday March 21, 2024, which provoked strong reactions linked to the ambiguity of its message, the management of the newspaper decided to withdraw Mr. Aurélien Viers for 1 week,” indicates an email received by the editorial staff of the newspaper and which Le Figaro was able to consult, “and to carry out an audit on the front page manufacturing process”. For a week, the editorial management will be jointly managed by journalists Tanguy Cohen and Michaël Levy.

This episode occurs just as a charter of independence for the newspaper was about to be signed. “She’s already been trampled,” protested a source close to the editorial staff. “If Aurélien Viers stays, he will be weakened. If he leaves, it is an affront to the independence of the editorial staff,” she adds. The National Union of Journalists sent an email to employees of the daily Provence on Friday morning to denounce this situation and organize a general meeting which is currently being held, in order to decide “what action to take regarding this attack on the freedom to inform” . A strike could be voted for by the newspaper's journalists.

The front page of Thursday March 21 gave the floor to residents and certain dealers of the Marseille city after the visit of President Emmanuel Macron to the Castelane district, known for its drug trafficking. “He left and we are still here,” the newspaper headlined, quoting two of the people interviewed in the file.

According to our information, Rodolphe Saadé would have summoned the publication director, Gabriel Harcourt, to express his disagreement with this choice of front page. “We knew internally that this front page displeased CMA,” confides another close to the editorial staff. “This famous headline that is so talked about has been validated and sent. There was no problem for us, but we started to have doubts this morning very early,” adds another. “I think there is a desire to exit Aurélien Viers because the results are not good enough in the eyes of the shareholder,” she adds.

A note of apology was published on the front page of this Friday's newspaper, signed "from the publishing director Gabriel d'Harcourt", underlines the letter from the Journalists' Union. He evokes “the emotion of many of you” upon reading the front page of March 21, which “made people believe that we were complacently giving voice to drug traffickers determined to taunt public authority.”

The newspaper La Provence was bought a year ago by the shipowner Rodolphe Saadé. This close friend of Emmanuel Macron is gradually gaining a prominent place in the media. It is preparing to acquire the Altice Media group, owner of BFMTV and RMC.

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