Sunday 17 December 2017

Storm over bid to 'kill' unflattering Hollande photo

Francois Hollande pictured pulling a face in school yesterday
Francois Hollande pictured pulling a face in school yesterday

Henry Samuel Paris

An unflattering picture of Francois Hollande has provoked an internet storm in France after being leaked and shared on Twitter.

In the image – which the main French news agency AFP attempted to withdraw from circulation – the French president grins in front of a blackboard on which is written: "Today, it's back to school."

The photograph was taken on Tuesday during Mr Hollande's visit to a school in Denain, northern France, to coincide with the start of term for hundreds of thousands of French pupils. It appears he was pulling a funny face to make the pupils laugh.

The original image came with the caption: "During a visit to the school Denain Michelet, September 3, 2013, Francois Hollande smiles, chairing a panel discussion on the reform of school timetables established by the government."

Agence France-Presse (AFP) initially posted the picture on its website as available for downloading but – apparently concerned that it was inappropriate for a head of state – later issued a "mandatory kill" notice, meaning the photo must not be used.

Despite the ban, the image quickly hit social media sites and among the comments were: "Here is the new official photo of Francois Hollande. Please put up in all town halls!"

Another wrote that no amount of Photoshop editing software "can make the president look more intelligent".

AFP insisted that there had been no pressure from the Elysee Palace to withdraw the photo, which continued to be available through Reuters on a pooled basis.

Philippe Massonnet, news director at the state-funded agency, said: "Has this photo been withdrawn because the Elysee intervened to ask us to do so? The answer is no, that's absolutely clear. It was decided to kill the photo as we considered in retrospect that it provided nothing in news terms."

The agency then published another photo from the series in which the president's smile looks slightly less clownish. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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