Fidest – Agenzia giornalistica/press agency

Quotidiano di informazione – Anno 31 n° 259

The world reflects as Notre-Dame burns

Posted by fidest press agency su martedì, 16 aprile 2019

By Jon Allsop. Yesterday evening, Paris time, Notre-Dame cathedral caught fire. As it burned, photos and video—of billowing smoke; of flames raging in the cross-shaped interior; of the spire leaning slowly, then tumbling away—held global attention. French media were never far from someone weeping. “Pardon me… I am just so shaken,” one caller cried on Radio France. “It’s a treasure, a national treasure that has gone up in flames,” said another, through sobs. The late edition of Le Parisien, echoing the poignant religious symbolism of so much coverage, led with the headline Notre-Dame des larmes: Our lady of tears.
In the US, the story was everywhere. The networks quickly corralled their correspondents (disrupting at least one vacation in the process). As news reporters kept us abreast of firefighters’ battle to save the cathedral’s structure, magazines published more personal reflections. In The New Yorker, Lauren Collins recalled a recent visit to Notre-Dame’s roof, where she had checked in on renovation work. “Tonight,” she wrote, “I realized that we may have been some of the last people to stand there.” For The Atlantic, Rachel Donadio watched amid a crowd as a building that had “survived eight centuries of plague, war, revolution, and the Nazis” started to fall. “Messages come in from friends around the world—‘Are you okay?’—as if this were another terrorist attack, or a death in the family,” she wrote. “In a way, it is a death. In the human family. We are all shocked together.”
In many corners of social media, the atmosphere was funereal. Even people who could see the fire with their own eyes viewed it through their phones. They were “trying to capture in a few pixels what had stood for centuries,” wrote Donadio, who encapsulated the cathedral’s lifespan: “Built in the Gothic era, destroyed in the social-media era.”Because this is the social-media era, misinformation about the fire spread quickly. BuzzFeed’s Jane Lytvynenko rounded up hoaxsters’ claims that Emmanuel Macron/Michelle Obama/“Muslims”/terrorists set the fire deliberately. (While the actual cause has yet to be established, French officials say there’s no evidence of arson, and suspect an accident.) The platforms, once again, attracted criticism. Matt Dornic, an executive at CNN, said Twitter refused to remove a fake CNN account because it had the word “parody” in its bio. (The account was later suspended.) YouTube, for its part, flagged several major outlets’ livestreams of the fire as misinformation, then, for some reason, linked out to explainer content about 9/11.For the most part, who or what might be to blame seemed a secondary concern. People around the world led with their tributes, their reflections, and their grief. As Michael Kimmelman observed in The New York Times, no one had died. The global reaction, nonetheless, was overwhelming. Was it because Notre-Dame has been such a focal point of Western culture, both religious and secular? Was it something peculiar to Paris, which has always tugged on our heartstrings? Was it the abundance of shocking visuals, served to us everywhere we looked? Did we see a metaphor—in our troubled times—for lost permanence, lost steadfastness, lost beauty? What, exactly, did it stir in us? Admittedly, it’s easier to pose questions than answers.Whatever the reason, an angry world and much of its media stopped, for a few hours, at least, to watch a tragedy and to try to process it. We weren’t silent—far from it. But the tenor of the coverage was a break from the incessant thunder to which we have become accustomed. Briefly, something old and beautiful commanded our attention, and our contemplation. (font: CJR Editors)

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