Daniel Schneidermann is a French journalist, born in Paris on April 5, 1958, who focuses on the analysis of televised media. He is mainly active in weekly columns—in the past in Le Monde and presently in Libération—and on a television show: "Arrêt sur images" ("Freeze-frame"), broadcast by the public TV channel France 5. The television show was terminated in 2007 by France 5 direction, an incident that led to the creation of the Arret Sur Images web site.
After training at the "Training Center for Journalists" (Centre de formation des journalistes), Daniel Schneidermann joined the newspaper Le Monde in 1981, where he was made a foreign correspondent in 1983. In 1992, he began to write columns on television, daily at first, for Le Monde, critiquing the way in which TV presents information and influences viewers, continuing the tradition of television criticism begun thirty years earlier by writers like François Mauriac or Morvan Lebesque (see, on this subject, the book The Critical Eye - The Television Critic (L'œil critique - Le journaliste critique de télévision) by Jérôme Bourdon and Jean-Michel Frodon.)
In 1995, the success of his written columns allowed him to create a weekly program on France 5 called "Arrêt sur images" ("Freeze-Frame"), which he both produced and moderated. The journalist Pascale Clark anchored the show with him during the first year. The objective of Arrêt sur images is to "decode" television's images and talk, and with the help of diverse columnists and journalists, to analyze the sources and the effectiveness of the narrative use of media. The program tries to use the Internet for the purposes of self-criticism. Each month, an internet "forum-master," who is responsible for following the viewer debates in the internet forum for Arrêt sur images, comes on the show to question Daniel Schneidermann about remarks submitted by the contributors to the site.
Schneidermann continued to write his columns, which became weekly, for Le Monde. In October 2003, he was fired, after the publication of his book The Media Nightmare (Le Cauchemar médiatique), in which he deplored the fact that the management of Le Monde had not responded to criticism directed at them by the authors of the book The Face Hidden from the World [tr. note: pun on le Monde, the title of the newspaper, which means the World] (La Face cachée du Monde.) In his last column (A Column at Sea or Une chronique à la mer ), he related how deceived and surprised he was by the sanctions of a paper which nevertheless claims to be a model of transparency.
He became a columnist covering all the media, every Friday, in the daily newspaper Libération, whose publisher, Serge July, he had derided in 1989 in his book Where are the cameras? (Où sont les caméras ?) ; notably, July rebuked Schneidermann for having "changed sides."
Schneidermann shows an equal interest in analysis of the internet[dead link] as a source of data, notably in regard to the development of blogs, and of the Wikipedia website. In an experiment intended to test the capacity of Wikipedia to tolerate a critical discussion about itself, and to observe the collective editing of its articles, he introduced the two following sentences into the present article: "In 2005, with David Abiker and Judith Bernard, he created the Big Bang Blog,[dead link] in order to explore “everything which cracks apart and everything which resists” in the world of media. In one of these blog entries, he denounced the anonymity of the authors of Wikipedia articles in general, and this one in particular."
The blog will allow him to express ideas which would not have a place in his columns or his TV programs as well as to defend himself from the criticism he expects to receive.
As a media critic, Schneidermann has become the target of several polemics, either directed at himself personally or at his show, “Freeze-Frame”.
A “Freeze-Frame” show of January 20, 1996 focused on criticism by sociologist Pierre Bourdieu, who was invited to join journalists Jean-Marie Cavada and Guillaume Durand. Bourdieu believed that the show had not actually allowed him to express himself and confirmed his original idea that “television can’t be criticized on television;” Daniel Schneidermann’s comeback was that he thought the criticism showed a misunderstanding of how television worked. In 1996, Bourdieu published the book “On Television” (“Sur la télévision"), while Schneidermann, in 1999, brought out "About Journalism After Bourdieu" ("Du journalisme après Bourdieu.")
The film Enfin pris? ("Captured at last?" or possible "Finally Caught?") by the journalist Pierre Carles, a partisan of Bourdieu and for a very short time a collaborator with Schneidermann, uses Schneidermann as its central character, a character Carles seems to suspect of partiality and denial. The movie is obviously based on scenes of the show with Pierre Bourdieu, and refers to the fact that, at a later time, the CEO of Vivendi Universal, Jean-Marie Messier was invited to a "Freeze-Frame" show, by himself, where Schneidermann proposed to Bourdieu that he appear on the program with the condition that Bourdieu agree to appear with opponents.
Dismissal from Le Monde
Besides the controversy surrounding the book The Face Hidden from the World ["Le Monde"] (La Face cachée du Monde) by Pierre Péan and Philippe Cohen, Daniel Schneidermann criticized, in his own book The Media Nightmare (Le Cauchemar médiatique) the reaction of the management of the daily paper, stating that they did not respond to the arguments presented in the book. The directors of Le Monde fired him in October 2003 on the grounds of "legitimate and serious cause": according to the paper, a passage in Schneidermann's book was "detrimental to organization for which he works." The journalist took the paper to labor arbitration in Paris, which decided in his favor in May 2005. Le Monde has appealed this decision.
On the other hand, in 2003 Schneidermann himself fired a freelance employee of Arrêt sur images and a moderator of the Internet forum, whom he accused of behavior contrary to the principles of the program. This dismissal was condemned by the courts on May 20, 2005 as abusive because it did not have sufficient cause.
Accusations of plagiarism
In 2000, Schneidermann published The Lunacy of the Internet, a book which reprinted a series of articles originally published over the course of the summer in Le Monde. He was accused of plagiarism by several writers (actually : 2) from websites from which he had used passages (actually : 4 lines) without citing their source.[dead link] Schneidermann defended himself by saying that the articles were based on sources that were too numerous to possibly cite explicitly.
On the subject of media frenzy:
"In the maelstrom, all the protagonists get confused, those who speak and those who listen, journalists and readers, witnesses and participants, all spread the same message. The surging river doesn't let anyone get to the shore." (Le Cauchemar médiatique, 2003)
- Tout va très bien, monsieur le ministre ("Everything's just fine, Mr. Minister"), Belfond, 1987, ISBN 2-7144-2069-9
- Où sont les caméras ? ("Where are the cameras?"), Belfond, 1989, ISBN 2-7144-2308-6
- Un certain Monsieur Paul, l'affaire Touvier ("A Certain Mr. Paul: the Touvier Affair"), Fayard, 1989 (avec Laurent Greilsamer), ISBN 2-213-59248-9
- Les Juges parlent ("The Judges Speak"), Fayard, 1992 (avec Laurent Greilsamer), ISBN 2-213-02939-3
- La Disparue de Sisterane ("The Woman who Disappeared from Sisterane"), Fayard, 1992, ISBN 2-213-02847-8
- Arrêts sur images ("Freeze-Frames"), Fayard, 1994, ISBN 2-213-59180-6
- Anxiety Show, Arléa, 1994, ISBN 2-86959-216-7
- Nos mythologies ("Our Mythologies"), Plon, 1995, ISBN 2-259-18164-3
- L'Étrange Procès ("The Mysterious Trial"), Fayard, 1998, ISBN 2-213-60104-6
- Du journalisme après Bourdieu ("Journalism After Bourdieu"), Fayard, 1999, ISBN 2-213-60398-7
- Les Folies d'Internet ("Internet Follies"), Fayard, 2000, ISBN 2-213-60694-3
- Où vont les juges ? ("Where are the Judges going?), Fayard, 2002 (avec Laurent Greilsamer), ISBN 2-213-61077-0
- Le Cauchemar médiatique ("The Media Nightmare"), Denoël, 2003, ISBN 2-07-031704-8
Daniel Scheidermann has produced a documentary:
- Kosovo, des journalistes dans la guerre ("Kosovo, journalists in the war") (Arte, 2000, running time: 90 minutes)
- Ciel, j’ai ma notice dans Wikipedia! : Daniel Schneidermann talking in his blog about Wikipedia. ("Wow! I got my article in Wikipedia!")
- Arrêt sur Images about television, on television.
- www.lemonde.fr about television in the French newspaper Le Monde
Notes and references
- Arret Sur Images web site
- (French) "Une chronique à la mer, par Daniel Schneidermann," Le Monde Television (03.10.2003, 10h07).
- (French)« Le premier responsible du trop d'information, c'est Internet »- Chat from October 18, 2005 on the website of the newspaper Libération.
- Podcasting: interview de Daniel Schneidermann sur les blogs on the website Pointblog.com published on February 24, 2006.
- « Wikipédia, ses espoirs, ses menaces »- Premier section of the newspaper Libération.
- Blog page of Daniel Schneidermann dedicated to the present article: Wow, I got my ariticle in Wikipedia!
- Big Bang Blog
- See the exchange between Bourdieu and Schneidermann in le Monde diplomatique en 1996 : Analyse d’un passage à l’antenne, par Pierre Bourdieu; Réponse à Pierre Bourdieu, by Daniel Schneidermann.
- "Enfin pris?" is a French film (2001), third installment of the trilogy by Pierre Carles about the media. "Enfin Pris?" shows us the hidden face of the television show "Freeze-Frame" ("Arrêt sur images.") This movie is the sequel to "Pas vu pas pris" ("Not seen, not captured") and "La sociologie est un sport de combat" ("Sociology is a combat sport.") Pierre Carles attempted to demonstrate what Pierre Bourdieu said in his book "Sur la télévision," i.e., that television cannot criticize television because the conditions of show production favor television insiders in a way that is not necessarily conscious, while depicting them as having a marked (affichée) neutrality. As an example, he uses the show about Pierre Bourdieu on the program "Arrêt sur images" ("Freeze-Frame") and the argument which resulted between the sociologist and the emcee Daniel Schneidermann. More than showcasing a famous journalist, "Enfin Pris?" presents a reflection on the structure itself of televised debate. (translation of French Wikipedia article on Enfin Pris?)
- the prud'hommes, French labor-law arbitrators connected officially to the court system.
- Accusations de "pillage" against Daniel Schneidermann (site rezo.net, 2000)
The above is a translation of the French Wikipedia article fr:Daniel Schneidermann.