The night has risen; how about the media? – Diyar Saraçoğlu

radio_debout_liberationFrench people have been on the streets for the past two months following protests against a new labor law passed on 31 March that spread after activists refused to vacate La Place de la République, eventually becoming Nuit Debout (Rise up at Night). “General anger, the more or less underground development of different struggles, the emergence of a general fight against the labor law, and the initiative to occupy the Place de la République” all played a critical role in  producing the present phase of protest, according to Denis Godard.[1]

After 31 March, the protests spread to other cities in France before spilling over the country’s borders to a number of European countries, particularly Belgium. While some see the protests as a holdover from the 2011 protests as others hail it as a new Paris of 1968, the Nuit Debout protests are continuing to be marked with general strikes.[2] It is possible to view the geographical spread of the movement in France and other countries thanks to an interactive map. In contrast to similar recent uprisings (such as Occupy, Gezi and the like), the movement has created its own unique characteristics by truly “occupying”[3] the streets in addition to staging strikes.

But how has such a wave of revolt that has spread so far and continued for so long been reflected in the media? More than provide a deep analysis of the mainstream media in regard to Nuit Debout, this article will attempt to provide readers wishing to “follow what is happening” with an introduction to different channels and platforms that have been organizing in a rhizomatic fashion, establishing networks and emerging as effective examples of alternative media.

Newspaper, television channels

Unsurprisingly, the role of the mainstream media organizations during Nuit Debout has resembled that of counterparts in similar uprisings in other countries. Still, the existence of just one editor-in-chief for seven newspapers seems to be a more pronounced fact of life in Turkey’s region.[4]

In general, one can separate the attitudes of global media outlets into two categories with regard to the protests. The first segment has either completely ignored the Nuit Debout protests or devoted precious little attention to them. CNN, Al Jazeera English and the BBC all fall into this category. The second category consists of groups that have misrepresented the events. In this, organizations like The Associated Press, New York Times, ABC and Fox News have focused on the “damage” caused by the protests rather than the righteous demands of the demonstrators or police violence against protesters.[5] Conservative media outlets like Le Figaro have even directly challenged the protests, suggesting that “Nuit Debout has been inflated with the helium of the media.”[6]

The movement itself, however, has conducted an excellent compilation, detailing day by day on its Wiki site how the Nuit Debout protests have been reflected in the media. For those wishing to follow the protests, it’s an invaluable resource.

If we are to start the discussion departing from the 2011 uprisings and Gezi, then it is important to note that the wave of strikes in the country also affected the media sector, and there were days that no newspaper made it to print except L’Humanité, which is connected to the French Communist Party.[7]

So given that the mainstream media is in such a state, how has the movement succeeded in establishing its own (alternative) media?

The World of the Internet

The diagram below attempts to outline the fundamental structure of the movement. In terms of this article, what concerns us most is Pôle communication, Nuit Debout’s communication channels.

nuit_debout_gece_ayakta-1

Thanks to lessons learned from previous experiments, the movement has been active on the internet from the very beginning. The movement has succeeded in using the internet both for its internal communications and issuing calls and establishing connections with the “outside world.”[8]

With a well-developed and continuously updated website, many accounts on different social media platforms (many of which are local), radio stations, a well-developed wiki portal, a chat channel for instant correspondence, live broadcasts and visual productions, the movement has a very well-developed internet presence that makes it sometimes difficult to keep up.[9]

The movement, which began gaining visibility with its occupation on 31 March, has even created its own calendar, starting with 32 March, 33 March and continuing all the way until the present. Naturally, this has lent itself to hashtagging with examples such as #32Mars… #70Mars #96Mars (4 June).

Website

The movement’s official website is the intersection point for news about the protests, analyses, the common protest agenda and other related media channels (TV Debout, Stream Debout, Radio Debout, Gazette Debout). In effect, one could term the website a portal hosting the collective repository of the protests. At the same time, the site’s #GlobalDebout section provides information both on protests that happened around the world on 15 May as well as afterwards.[10] The Convergence des luttes site also facilitates the creation of a common struggle while fostering communication.

nuit_debout_gece_ayakta-2Gazette Debout:

Gazette Debout is the movement’s internet newspaper. Similar to the movement’s website, the internet paper also functions like a portal. Meanwhile, the Médias Debout section is particularly rich in terms of different media content such as photographs, drawings and the like.

The newspaper also features a bulletin listing daily protests and the hours for commission meetings: Bulletin Debout.

Some other localities, such as Rennes, are producing their own newspaper: Gazette Nuit Debout – Rennes.

Wiki Portal: Functioning in a fashion similar to the website, the Wiki page, which is used a portal, is constantly updated, providing coordination between the uprisings at home and abroad. While not all pages are in English, it is possible to access a large degree of information on meetings.

Chat Channel: In the interests of facilitating instant chat, the movement created its own chat channels.

nuit_debout_gece_ayakta-5-300x225Radio:

Like many movements, Nuit Debout has formed its own radio station. With the exception of local stations, it is possible to listen to a number of stations at Radio Debout.

Support Sites

Apart from the internet portals directly established and managed by the movement, constituents have also made their own contribution by forming their own sites. The Paris-luttes.info site, which helps to give voice to the banlieues, provides a platform for news that would otherwise be difficult to access. The site is crucial in that it is not operated by the white, middle-class members of the movement in the center but provides news of the battles in the banlieues. Meanwhile, thanks to Démosphère, another alternative news channel in the Paris area, we can learn the time and location of Nuit Debout protests (or, indeed, other protests). Reporterre, on the other hand, is a site that focuses on ecological news but which also attempts to provide frequent news on Nuit Debout protests.

Social Media Accounts

Facebook

Stemming from both its high usage rates and its support for different media types, Facebook has become the social platform of choice in most recent movements. With the emergence of the ability to stage live broadcasts, it has opened new doors to movements. Nuit Debout is influential on Facebook, possessing a number of sites – particularly the Nuit Debout official page. In addition to providing general information, the main pages also facilitate coordination between the various pages. There are also local pages for other cities that have witnessed the emergence of Nuit Debout protests, such as Lyon, Toulouse, Rennes, Metz, Bordeaux, Nantes.

Commissions that have been established as part of the movement also boast their own sites. Some of the most prominent are Écologie Debout (Ecology has risen), Convergence des luttes #jouretnuitdebout (The convergence of struggles, day and night has risen), Archi Debout (Architecture has risen), Commission économie #NuitDebout Paris (Economy Commission Nuit Debout Paris).

There are also general Facebook sites like Global Debout, as well as sites directed at Spain and Britain, such as Nuit Debout Spain, Nuit Debout London.

But let’s not skip over a site that has been established in Turkey to announce protests: Nuit Debout Turquie- Gece Ayakta Türkiye.

Twitter

The #Debout hashtag has created an impact similar to previous movements such as #Occupy or #diren (#resist) in Turkey. As with Facebook, the movement has spawned a number of different Twitter accounts, including @NuitDebout and @GlobalDebout, which broadcasts in English for a global audience. Naturally, there are also local Twitter handles, such as for Paris (@nuitdeboutparis), Lyon (@NuitDeboutLyon), Toulouse (@NuitDeboutTlse), and one for London that is frequently used: (@NuitDeboutLDN).

There are also accounts that opened for the 2011 protest wave but have since come to embrace the Nuit Debout movement, such as @15MBcn_int.

As mentioned previously, the movement has created its own calendar, and such dates have spawned widely used hashtags, like #36Mars and #90Mars.[11]

nuit_debout_gece_ayakta-6-300x225Youtube – TV Debout – Live Broadcasts

The most prominent TV station is TV Debout, which devotes much of its programming to interviews but also features a number of videos.

The live broadcasts have attracted a great deal of attention, and Periscope and Facebook’s live broadcast feature is now being used frequently – sometimes to the extent that they have exceeded capacity, as in the case with broadcasts from Place de la République.[12] Remy Buisine is one of the most significant figures in terms of Periscope broadcasts.

What about Instagram, Tumblr and Snapchat?

For influential Instagram accounts that have provided a visual storage of the movement, check out nuitdebout, nuitdebouttoulouse, nuitdeboutlyon, or some of the hashtags on the site: #nuitdebout, #onvautmieuxqueça.[13]

Like Instagram, Tumblr has functioned as a visual repository of the movement.

Snapchat has recently become an integral part of the struggle – particularly among younger people. You can follow it here.

Mobile Applications

Nuit Debout possesses a well-developed application on the Android platform from which one can access news, the chat channel, Radio Debout and TV Debout.

Free Networks:

Like Occupy and the Indignados, Nuit Debout also makes use of free networks, although they have yet to assume the impact of other media. At present, the most prominent is Diaspora.

Meanwhile, with GitHub storage, it is possible to access the codes for the movement’s official site.

Visual Content:

As has been the case from the Spanish Civil War until Gezi, visual materials, posters, graffiti and banners are also significant in Nuit Debout, focusing especially on documenting police violence, calls for strikes and humor.

The Nuit Debout protests are continuing in our neighborhood, acquiring experience, producing a street movement and resulting in strikes and new creations. To see what it has accumulated, produced and won will require time. But in our own region, seeing what we can do in terms of newly developing paths of struggle and alternative media requires us to conduct deeper and more detailed examinations and to put our ear to the ground for news of developments constantly occurring there.

* I’d like to express my gratitude to Canan Coşkan for contributions and constructive criticism of this article.

[1] https://www.jacobinmag.com/2016/05/nuit-debout-labor-law-valls-france-paris/

[2] Naturally, it is important not to ignore one of the fundemental criticisms of the protests, namely, that the movement is primarily white and middle class and has not attracted the participation of migrants, Africans or Arabs in large numbers. This situation naturally also impacts some of the usages in the media and discussions about representation in the media. For more on the issue, see TeleSur’s appraisal of the issue: http://www.telesurtv.net/english/news/Black-and-Arab-Activists-Fight-State-Racism-in-France-20160524-0050.html.

[3] Some protests choose not to describe the actions as an occupation because they do not hold the streets around the clock. As such, I have used “occupation” with quotation marks. https://roarmag.org/essays/nuit-debout-interview-baki-youssouf/

[4] 7 Gazete, 1 Genel Yayın Yönetmeni (7 newspapers, 1 editor-in-chief) bianet, 7 June 2013: http://bianet.org/bianet/siyaset/147327-7-gazete-1-genel-yayin-yonetmeni

[5] Gabriel Rockhill examined this issued in Media Blackout On Nuit Debout, which was published on 8 May. https://www.popularresistance.org/media-blackout-on-nuit-debout/

[6] http://www.languedocliving.com/french-newspaper-round-up-27-april-2016-news-5166.html

[7] http://haber.sol.org.tr/dunya/fransada-bugun-ulusal-gazeteler-cikmayacak-157155

[8] Some have suggested that the film Merci Patron!, a work by Fakir journal’s François Ruffin which went into cinemas in February, was influential in the Nuit Debout movement especially due to the rapid questioning of the youth and criticisms of the system.

[9] Another article that has provided a good evaluation of the reasons for Nuit Debout’s spread can be found at https://mediaactivism.org/2016/04/16/nuitdebout-5-things-to-know-about-the-movement-thats-spreading-through-france-and-maybe-europe/.

[10] While the movement’s official site is in French, the #GlobalDebout section is in English.

[11] To follow daily developments, one can search using the date from the new calendar. To learn developments from 5 June 2016, for example, search for #97Mars.

[12] For detailed statistics, click on: https://cartorezo.wordpress.com/2016/06/01/2-millions-de-tweets-nuitdebout-les-twittos-remplacent-les-medias-via-periscope/.