Thank you for this contact, a step that those who simply defame us usually do without.
We will try to answer you point by point.
First, we remind you that we operate within the framework of the law of July 29, 1881 on the freedom of the press in France. We are therefore only accountable to the French justice system.
Moreover, whatever you say in the presentation of your organization (in case you were wondering, our experienced journalists come from diverse backgrounds and have no political interest to defend), we have reasons to strongly doubt the political neutrality of the numerous organizations that have attributed to themselves a role of control of content outside the French justice system. We do not claim ourselves to be neutral, a subjective idea if there is one, but to have accurate facts and free analysis. These two elements characterize a free press, an essential element to the functioning of a democracy worthy of the name.
Finally, some of our editors have a press card and some have long experience in the general press.
1) On each of your nine criteria
Boulevard Voltaire is an opinion website. Like all opinion media, our vocation is to disseminate true and verified information, based on indisputable facts, in order to offer our readers an analysis in line with our editorial line.
Therefore, to misrepresent the facts or to rely on inaccurate facts would be a deception of our readers. We obviously do not wish to do so.
For several months now, we have been displaying the following text on the front page of our site: “Boulevard Voltaire is committed to guaranteeing the reliability of its information on a daily basis. Our publications are based on undisputed sources (official reports, public organizations, national media, direct testimony, interviews, etc.). They indicate these sources and link to them whenever possible. All our publications are systematically proofread at least twice and published after detailed verification by professional journalists. If, despite our vigilance, we have missed an error, do not hesitate to inform us. The editorial staff”
This written and published commitment is not neutral. It commits us and guides us and obliges us to correct any human error as soon as possible.
Finally, BV [Boulevard Voltaire] also publishes humor articles, indicated as such (Satire in Sight), in the style of the satirical press.
2) Responsible presentation of information and false information:
a) On the article “Ukraine: ‘I fear that the great loser in this story is Europe’”
As you can see, this is an interview with a perfectly legitimate personality to express himself on this complex and debatable issue. Hervé Juvin is a Member of the European Parliament and a specialist in these issues. His expert comments are clearly attributed to him, his analysis belongs to him. Boulevard Voltaire has done a responsible job in giving the floor to this competent personality as well as to others who present different points of view (General Clermont, for example). At no time does Boulevard Voltaire associate itself with all or part of the vision of the conflict of this or that interviewed personality, which may indeed be subject to debate or contradict another point of view. How can we ask an editorial team to verify every statement made by an expert? Which editorial staff, even important ones (web, radio and television), checks every word spoken by its experts or the personalities interviewed?
BV has remained very cautious on this conflict, we have always condemned the Russian aggression and have never taken a position on the points you raise. We cannot be held responsible for the personal analysis of an interviewee.
b) On the January 2022 article entitled “The Russians are not going to set out to conquer Europe”
You omit to mention the signatory of this article, clearly identified in the page layout. By his career, his rank and his competence in military matters, General Roland Dubois has all the legitimacy to express himself on this conflict and on Crimea. Here again, it is indeed a personal analysis and an argued point of view of the author. The mention of his name and rank prevents any confusion with an article by a journalist of our team. If one or the other of his arguments can give rise to debate, the form of this position (written and signed text) forbids BV from making any kind of comment. Le Figaro or Le Monde cannot respond point by point to all the signatories of the articles they publish in their debates and opinions pages. It is the same for BV, an opinion site presented as such. Except to forbid the expression of any opinion. Once again, this is not a point of view of BV, even less an editorial line and another expert could have made an opposite analysis in our columns. Finally, pointing out the “profoundly undemocratic nature of authoritarian progressivism” in France does not call into question any specific individual, but rather, it seems to us, is a matter of opinion and debate of ideas. BV brings every day, in its articles, many factual elements in support of this opinion. This is the vocation of BV and it is the meaning of the freedom of opinion in force in France and necessary to any democracy worthy of the name.
3) On the distinction between news and opinion
You noticed, you say, “that many news articles still contained opinions and were not filed in the ‘Tribunes’ section of the site or labeled ‘Point of View.’ For example, a July 2022 article published in the Justice section was titled, ‘A report from the ultra-lax convention on the state of Criminal Law: happy as a delinquent in France.” The article stated, ‘Violence and criminality are flourishing, not only because of the justice’s lack of resources, but especially because of an anti-penal and anti-prison ideology that continues to impose itself against the will of the French. This testifies to the profoundly undemocratic nature of an authoritarian progressivism that privileges ideology over the popular will.’”
Our answer: We are placing more and more articles in the Op-Eds or Point of View sections, including, sometimes, when they are signed by some of our regular contributors. But BV being an opinion site, clearly presented as such (a “conservative” site), it would not make sense to indicate Tribune or Opinion at the top of each article. On the other hand, we fully accept this article, which is completely in line with BV’s editorial line and falls under our editorial liberty. We do not detect any factual error in the remarks you note but simply the expression of an analysis of the facts. This judgment of our contributor is confirmed and argued by many other articles published on our site.
France is a democracy, the life of ideas is essential to its functioning. BV would have no reason to exist if it were content to deliver AFP dispatches to its readers. Your organization must therefore take into account the politically engaged nature of BV, presented as such. In a media of opinion (Libération, L’Humanité, Valeurs actuelles…), all the articles have the vocation, based on exact and verified facts, to analyze the facts, to argue an opinion or a politically engaged editorial line. The certainly polemical remarks of our contributor Frédéric Lassez, eminent lawyer and jurist, are part of the vocation of an opinion site.
The family of the press of opinion is one of the oldest in France, its origins go back to Mazarin. It has played a great role in the history of ideas in France, from the revolutionary newspapers to the Figaro or Libération, as well as L’Humanité of Jaurès. Indispensable to freedom of expression as well as to democratic debate, it has a vocation to exist online. This press of opinion, if it is not infallible (but which big media has never been mistaken?) has the vocation of interpreting facts according to an ideological framework. This does not exempt it from being precise and honest about the facts as well as about their interpretation, quite the contrary. BV has made great efforts to clarify the facts. The alleged facts are systematically linked to a credible source (major daily newspaper, regional newspaper, parliamentary report etc.). The reader can therefore verify the accuracy of the alleged facts and access the source. This effort, rare on the Internet, deserves to be appreciated by your organization. Furthermore, the invitation to inform us of any errors, on the front page of the site, is a commitment to the accuracy of the facts. Your organization can also report what it considers to be errors: we will correct the facts if necessary after verification.
But this precision on the facts should not make us lose our vocation as an opinion site. Interpreting the facts, giving them a meaning, remains since the beginning the nobility of journalistic work, whether this work is intended for an opinion news organization or not. It seems to us that your criteria are not adapted to the specific work of the opinion press. By undermining the credibility of our articles, wrongly in our opinion as we have demonstrated, your organization is undermining the BV brand which is our only capital, BV being an association financed by small donors.
The stakes are therefore high: freedom of expression and opinion in France is at stake. We therefore ask you with gravity to review your judgment of our media.
We hope that these answers will inform your work.
We remain available for any further information on Boulevard Voltaire.