Freedom of the [wine] Press?…Mais, Non!
Does this bother you?
A French court has now determined that articles about wine must be considered "advertising" even if the article is not paid for in anyway.
You’ve not read that incorrectly.
Decanter is reporting that a French court has determined that a magazine article recommending four bottles of inexpensive Champagne was, according to the court, "intended to promote sales of alcoholic beverages in excersising a
psychological effect on the reader that incited him or her to buy
As a result, the court says, such articles must carry health warnings. WOW!!
Decanter reports the reaction of Dominic Ponsford, editor of
UK-based industry journal, the Press Gazette:
"It’s absolutely extraordinary. (YA THINK!!!) The central tenet of
journalism in a western democracy is that journalists can publish the
truth as they see it without the interference of the government or an
outside body, within the boundaries of libel and copyright."
Ponsford is correct in every way…and yet, apparently wrong.
When the government gets in the business of proclaiming the right to add its own editorializing to media reports you know you’ve come a long way from the simple notion of "freedom of the press". The ugly thing is I can imagine the Marin Institute and the Center for Science in the Public Interest reading about this and attempting to make the same case here in America. That might be more of a comment on the radical nature and busibodiness of those organizations than it is about the state of American Journalism. But you can almost see those folks salivating right now.
That said, I’m a huge fan of France. Been there at least a dozen or more times. Married a French woman once. Will be taking my kids to France for the first time next year. But just how crazy have the French become? Such a ruling is so entirely subversive to the notion of press freedoms it’s hard to fathom just exactly what was on the minds of the court. I’ve known for some time that serious anti-alcohol sentiments have been moving through that country, but are they so strong that the French are willing to so thoroughly discard their freedoms?