French President Francois Hollande was visiting the Michelet school in Denain, Northern France yesterday when photographer Dennis Charlet snapped a picture of him for French news agency Agence France Presse.
Unfortunately, something was wrong with the photo. Just a few hours after it was published, the agency — which reportedly gets almost half of its income from government contracts — ordered a mandatory kill on the photograph, citing “editorial problems.”
What was wrong with the photo? The AFP claim that Hollande’s government did not ask them to remove the image, but it was removed due to an internal editorial decision. Hollande’s government has also come out to deny asking for the picture to be removed.
A post on the AFP blog goes some way to explaining the decision, pointing out that the agency has “a rule not to transmit images that gratuitously ridicule people.”
Whatever the reason behind removing the photo, the backlash has been swift.
Le Point said that the photo has achieved the “Streisand Effect” — referring to Barbara Streisand’s counterproductive efforts to suppress photographs of her Malibu home in 2003.
The “mandatory kill” seems to have been ultimately futile anyway. Charlet was a pool photographer, and rival agency Reuters has a very similar photograph of Hollande currently available for download:
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