Courtesy Reuters

The French Press

THE French press is being subjected to some sharp criticism both at home and abroad. Abroad the most frequent allegation is that there is no such thing as an independent press in France, that all the French newspapers are tools of the munitions interests. These accusations, however, are merely amplified repercussions of things that are being said in many sections of the French press itself, a fact sufficient to show that neither of the charges can be taken entirely literally. Actually there is no comparison between the situation of newspapers in France and their situation under dictatorships which have deprived the press of every grain of independence. It may be assumed that the steel manufacturers control several French newspapers, and fairly important ones at that. But it would be a great mistake to conclude that they control the French press as a whole.

France has long been and still is a democracy. To educate a free public opinion and to keep it informed presents problems and involves requirements that fascist systems do not have to bother about. By a strange paradox, among the causes contributing to the state of things now being criticized must be reckoned the exceedingly lax laws regulating the French press. There can be no doubt that respect for liberty and independence has led to too great indulgence for license. This has created in France a situation which is very different from anything known in, for example, a democratic country like England. There are other differences as compared with England. Some of these depend on the peculiar economic situation of French newspapers; others depend on the general traits and habits of mind of the French as a people. To grasp the many problems facing the French newspaper owner, one has to understand the conditions under which he must endeavor to subsist.

French public interest has recently been attracted to these matters by incidents arising in the course of the parliamentary investigation of the Stavisky scandal. Certain ministries were

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