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IN LATE NOVEMBER, as the Gilets Jaunes—or Yellow Vests—protest movement took hold in France, Martin Goillandeau and Makana Eyre wrote for CJR that participants were harassing, and even assaulting, journalists. Since then, the protests have become a weekly occurrence. So, too, have threats against reporters. “The harassment and violence have got worse,” Eyre told me this morning. “I went to the Saturday protests in Paris to shoot photos and see how big it would get. This was the first time that I really felt nervous with my camera… I saw people interfering with broadcasts, shouting at media teams, and getting in their faces. For much of it, I had my camera in my coat.”
This past weekend, a group of Yellow Vests in the northern city of Rouen set upon two journalists working for LCI, a French TV news broadcaster; they were spared by two bodyguards, one of whom ended up in hospital with a broken nose. Protesters aggressed another LCI team in Paris. In Toulon, two Agence France-Presse reporters were chased by about 10 people, while in nearby Marseille, photographers were hassled and blocked from taking pictures. In Toulouse, a group of protesters trapped a 31-year-old local journalist in her car and threatened her with rape. “They wanted me to open my window. I told them it wasn’t possible, that I had to go and pick up my son,” she recalled. “A man threatened me that I had two seconds to get out.” Organized groups have hampered newspapers’ core operations, too: overnight on Friday, for example, about 30 Yellow Vests blocked regional newspaper La Voix du Nord’s distribution depot and threatened to burn a truck, stopping 20,000 copies of the paper from being delivered. On Sunday, trash cans were set on fire outside the same paper’s offices. While no motive...
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