Harsh Censorship in French Invasion of Mali

'Zero Image' Goal Keeps Public in the Dark About War

Noticed a conspicuous lack of specificity in the reports on the French invasion of northern Mali? It’s not an accident, but rather part of a deliberate French military strategy.

Reporters Without Borders issued a statement today faulting France for imposition of its “zero image of the war front” goal, keeping private journalists from covering most of the invaded African nation and confining most of the foreign reporters to the capital city.

Even there, coverage is difficult and downright dangerous, as the Malian junta summarily detains journalists regularly, often confiscating their equipment and beating them if their reports are seen as unsympathetic to the regime.

It took a solid week of war before France even considered allowing “embedded journalists” into the northern two-thirds of the nation, and those journalists are exclusively from French state media, limiting their objectivity.

French troops have been quick to limit even that access, with reporters allowed into the conquered city of Gao only to be forcibly removed in an “emergency evacuation” when rebels ambushed troops and launched a suicide bombing on the city’s outskirts.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is senior editor of Antiwar.com.