Mocking “public access” – Media Silence – Vichy Records

News accounts are blaring France Makes Wartime Vichy Government Archive Available To The Public (NPR) or words to that effect.

NPR catches the surface facts:

The French government is making available for the first time more than 200,000 documents on the Vichy government, which collaborated with the Nazis during World War II.

The documents, which were previously only partially accessible to researchers, will make “information such as the activities of the special police, who hunted resistants, communists and Jews accessible to the public, as long as they have been cleared by defence and security chiefs,” French radio station RFI reported. These archives also “show the extra-legal prosecution of members of the French Resistance, as well as proceedings against French Jews,” says the Associated Press.

Of the fifteen sources I checked:

  1. ANSAmed (English)
  2. Arutz Sheva
  3. BBC News
  4. European Jewish Press
  5. France 24
  6. The Guardian
  7. Haaretz
  8. The Jerusalem Post
  9. National Public Radion (NPR)
  10. New York Times
  11. RFI (English)
  12. Smithsonian
  13. The Sun
  14. Washington Post
  15. Ynetnews

only the New York Times mentions where the Vichy records are held, at the “Police Museum in Paris,” a link to the Paris Official website of the Convention and Visitors Bureau entry on the Police Museum in Paris.

A more useful link takes you to the Police Museum in Paris website.

“Public access” as used in these stories means for me:

Does that sound like “public access” to you?

That may have qualified as “public access” in the 1970’s or even the 1980’s, but in 2015?

Not one of the fifteen media sources I checked, even mentions the lack of meaningful “public access” to the Vichy records.

Clearly “public access” means something different to these fifteen news organizations than it does to the average Net citizen.

A notion of “public access” so different that denying all the citizens of the Net access doesn’t even come up as a question.

How useful are news organizations that can’t recognize “public access” issues to government information?

If you are dissatisfied with second-hand reports without references to source documents, see: Decree of 24 December 2015 opening of archives pertaining to World War II, French Official Gazette No. 0300 of 27 December 2015 Page 24116, which authorized the release of these documents. Apologies for using the English translation but I wanted to quickly confirm reports such as in Ynetnews that the records were to be online were false.

Researchers have been granted broader access to request documents. No mean step but falls far short of “public access.”

PS: All statements about the contents of stories on other sites are as of today, 29 December 2015, at 14:25 EST. Those stories may change with or without notice.

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