French media being sued by some of the hostages in Paris attacks

This is a guest post by Cyril Rolling

You probably all remember the Islamist attacks that occurred in Paris in January. The second one happened inside the Hyper Cacher – a Jewish supermarket – and led to the death of four people.

Six survivors have decided to sue BFM TV – a 24/7 French news channel – for having put their lives in danger. The claim rests on the fact that BFM TV revealed on air that these hostages were trying to escape from Amedy Coulibaly by hiding in a cold room whereas the terrorist was not supposed to know it.

The survivors’ lawyer said the media « lacked the most basic precautions ». This lawsuit could lead judges to condemn the company’s legal representative to a maximum penalty of a year in prison and the company to pay a maximum fine of 15.000 euros (11.000 pounds). I must point out that courts are not likely to put the company’s representatives in jail in this kind of case.

I find this case very interesting since I am used to being very critical about the way 24-hour news channels deal with the news – they are all looking for exclusivity and often forget to protect their own credibility or potential victims. This is something we all notice. Scoops are frequently published without the proper controls. This is especially true concerning terror attacks’ coverage.

This case could become a precedent, which would be very advantageous to citizens. In my opinion people want the media to be serious so everyone can consider them as trustworthy. I think it is no longer a reality. There is a lot of work to do.