Estonian media grapples with how to cover aftermath of Paris

A fragment from Eesti Päevaleht's Hillar Mets's front page cartoon, in which a copy of Charlie was substituted for a Kalashnikov to avoid equating Muslims and terrorism. (EPL screenshot)
1/12/2015 9:14 AM
Category: Society

Estonian papers debated how to cover the attack on Charlie Hebdo on their front pages, and opted for a more restrained, less emotional approach, ETV reported in a segment that sampled takes across the publishing and cartooning world.

"The first moment when you are struck like that, you want to hit back - to prove that no one has managed to derail you," said Krister Paris, opinion editor for Eesti Päevaleht. "It feels like an Article Five scenario for us, to show collective defense because such an important institution - the media - has been attacked."

Ultimately, Eesti Päevaleht backed away from the cartoonist depicting a Muslim figure holding a weapon; in the final version he was holding a copy of Charlie.

Postimees also opted for a more conceptual solution, where the paper's journalists were pictured holding up signs in support of the weekly.

Priit Pärn, perhaps Estonia's best-known animator, who caused controversy in the late Soviet era, was interviewed briefly as well by ETV.

"If people started drawing mocking pictures of Jesus, it might work in Estonia, but in some Catholic country, it wouldn't be OK," he said.

Pärn said that in today's world, the reality is apparently that "only middle-aged white men can be parodied," but he said he personally believes everything is fair game.

"Death can be joked about, because it's something I think happens to all of us. But for instance, I never joked about the blind, because I'm not sure I won't go blind."

The segment also included a reaction to Interior Minister Hanno Pevkur's comments. Pevkur caused consternation last week with his observation, sandwiched into a longer comment, that the media was ultimately responsible for the Paris slayings.

"To leave journalists with the idea that they are somehow responsible for the incident is to say that journalists can be physically punished or shot for certain words, pictures, stories. I don't think that would be the message that has to be sent out right now," said Urve Eslas, Postimees opinion edtor. "This isn't a question of conflict between cultures and religion. It's about terrorism."

 

K. Rikken

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