The French, Roman Catholic newspaper, la Croix, clearly demonstrates the effects of political press and press freedom and is a product that illustrates the effectiveness of time, history, and major events in the transforming a source of media, such as this one. Now a successful and respected newspaper, la Croix seeks to report news stories that are not swayed by their Catholic backgrounds. However, because of its heavy Catholic influences and history, this is not always the case.
Founded in 1880, la Croix, literally translating to “the cross”, was originally a monthly magazine. However, soon after press freedom was enacted and newspapers were authorized to discuss political and social issues without the fear of being punished, la Croix became a daily paper in 1883. Published in Paris, France, la Croix was historically noted for having Catholic writers. Not only this, la Croix’s editors were historically always Priests. Because of la Croix’s heavy Catholic influence, it served as a uniting factor for many Catholic citizens of France who wanted to be united outside the realms of politics, social issues and specific ideologies. La Croix’s popularity grew rapidly. “At the end of the 19th century, it [la Croix] was the most widely read Catholic publication in France, with a Catholic clerical readership of more than 25,000.” (Wikipedia).
La Croix today is the product of history of press. Press freedom, which was first seen in 1881, allowed newspapers to freely “engage in political debate, to publish social and political comment, and even to criticize state authority without fear of punishment or imprisonment” (Humphreys, 22). Only two years after the advent of press freedom, la Croix changed from being a monthly newsletter into being a daily newspaper. This point of view allowed la Croix to present news that would unite Catholics. For example, during the Dreyfus affair in 1890, la Croix presented itself as “« le journal catholique le plus anti-juif de France », which literally translates to “the most anti-Jewish Catholic newspaper” (Wikipedia). However, after World War II, party press began to decline. With this decline also came many changes for la Croix. In 1956, la Croix changed their logo by removing the crucifix. Furthermore, the paper changed its name to la Croix-l’Événemen in 1972, to show that they were not just a religious paper. Also, in 1995, la Croix sought out a “secular” editor, Bruno Fappat, perhaps to reach out to non Catholic readers and to also establish itself as more than just a religious newspaper.
When one thinks of descriptions and impressions of la Croix, one may immediately jump to the conclusion that the paper only serves as a religious paper that is strongly biased, conservative and skewed in its analysis of current events. Even though la Croix has a history of being extremely right winged and biased towards the religion that it represents, la Croix is now recognized and respected as a major newspaper in France. Also, as stated above, la Croix does present itself as just a religious newspaper. Although the newspaper includes a rather large religion section, it also covers topics that are of importance to society and to the world, such as politics, economy, social issues, culture and global happenings. However, La Croix’s efforts to provide valuable news to the public while maintaining a professional, nonbiased approach on current events seem to be both successful and unsuccessful.
La Croix has had many successful attempts in being professionalism and nonbiased in its reporting, for example, in the September 27, 2010 issue of la Croix, the newspaper addresses issues such as the building of Israeli houses on Palestinian land, the United States’ phobia of Muslims and their religion, issues regarding the NGO and presidential elections of foreign lands. In addition to this, La Croix dedicates lengthy sections dedicated specifically to economics, world issues, culture and services. The articles included in this issue of La Croix seem to maintain political neutrality and furthermore, neither blatantly Catholic nor conservative. For example, the article, “Les colons de Cisjordanie sont prets à relancer les constructions”, which discusses the topic of the Israelis building news homes on Palestinian land, the writer, Karim Lebhour maintains an informative and neutral stance on the topic, as any other major newspaper writer would.
However, this is not always the case. While la Croix DOES cover many important current events such as the building of Israeli homes in Palestinian land, it often seems to still have some sort of catholic influence in the sections that are not supposed to be religious. For example, an article from August 22, 2010 dealing with the deportation of the Roma people focuses on a Catholic gathering in Lourdes, France to discuss the issue at hand, whereas other newspapers at the time were addressing the specific issues of the deportation and the inhumane conditions in which they had to live. Also, In a talk show style informational video, the analysts of France24.com discuss the issue of pension reform and the strikes and demonstrations that have come along with the law that extended the retirement age. In this video, the speaker draws attention to the stark differences in view between l’Humanité, a communist publication, and la Croix. While l’Humanité believed the strikes to be largely effective and advocated the French to continue to rebel against the government’s new law, la Croix seems to don a more conservative view by stating that that these strikes are futile and that the French people would have to accept what the government has decreed. However, even though these articles and reviews show that la Croix still maintains much of its religious roots, it is still taken seriously in the public eye. For example, the fact that France 24, a website that delivers French news in English, presents la Croix’s opinion about public issues along side other important French newspapers such the Parisien and the Libération. Also, even though La Croix has articles where their Catholic background shines through, the editors still seem to strive to keep their religion and the reporting current events, as evidenced by the newspaper’s layout. While la Croix still has a lengthy Religion section in which la Croix writers relay news about the pope, give devotionals, and more, the newspaper’s layout serves so that the topics on religion are distinctly separate from the other sections, regarding the world, culture, and economy. In doing so, I feel that the newspaper editors seek to show that although religion may still sway their writing in some articles, they are still striving to keep religion and the news separate, thus better maintaining their neutrality and professionalism.
In comparison to la Croix pre decline of the political press, la Croix today has greatly improved on the idea of neutral reporting. Although there are still heavy Catholic influences and references in this paper and despite its blatantly religious background, la Croix is still an important and respected source of media and information for the French public.
- " France sends Roma people home, home to nothing ." France 24. Web. 4 Oct 2010.
- Humphreys, Peter J. Mass media and media policy in Western Europe. Manchester, UK: Manchester University Press, 1996. 18-41. Print.
- "Is France a Target for Terrorists?." France 24. Web. 4 Oct 2010.
- "La Croix." Wikipedia. Web.
- "La Croix." Wikipedia. Web.
- Lebhour, Karim. "Les colons de Cisjordanie sont prets à relancer les constructions." la Croix 27 Sep. 2010: 4. Print.
* The videos and articles mentioned in this essay can be seen at the following links: