Today I bring you another story of the French being stuck on stupid. Many of you who read lots of Milblogs have probably seen this already but for those that haven't here's the story.
Michael Yon is a freelance photojournalist who has done a lot of work in the Middle East, especially Iraq & Afghanistan. He captured a truly heartbreaking image of an Army officer cradling the body of a very young Iraqi girl who was killed by an IED. This photo appeared on his website to bring a human side to the war. A company known as Polaris Images stole this photo and sold it to HFM publishing, a French company which used the image on the cover of a trash magazine called Shock. When contacted by Michael, HFM refused to honor his wishes to have the magazine removed. Since then Michael & his attorneys have been in negotiations with HFM. During this time HFM has tried every dirty tactic in the book, including threatening to sue Michael for posting information on his blog about the incident and for inciting other bloggers to do the same.
Below I have posted some info from Michaels site, before that though here are a couple links for more info on this issue and how you can help. One thing you can do is boycott the publications from HFM, they produce many including Car & Driver, Road & Track, & Elle.
A complete list is .Here
Make Yourself Heard who to contact and why.
Actions Speak Louder Than Words info from Michael Yon's website
Matt @ Blackfive's info and a copy of his letter to HFM
Here's some facts from Michaels website.
S.H.O.C.K. (Send Hachette Filipacchi Media Our Collective Kick)
Some points to consider:
* The previous "communication" activity of the blogosphere, even though it was uncoordinated and unfocused, worked to get HFM to the
table. Within 10 days, 1000 blogs were posting on or linking to this topic.
* In fact, it worked so well at shocking them, HFMÂs first response to was to insinuate a threat to sue Michael Yon for defamation. When
he disclosed that publicly, it backfired on HFM because that company is only concerned with selling its magazines and anything that
interferes with that gets the attention of top executives.
* Another indication of how concerned the company is with the PR of this experience, is that their primary focus was to get Michael Yon
to post what THEY had written about the settlement on Friday last, but he instead posted what he could live with by way of a statement
about the settlement on Monday. And over the weekend, they used every outlet they could to make it look like Michael not only settled
the terms to resolve their infringement but also that he was part of their effort to promote the magazine, about which he continues to
"The only thing shocking is its lameness, and the only thing it proves is how low a French mega-media publishing conglomerate,
Hachette Filipacchi, will stoop in order to squeeze two bucks out of its sneering mockery of others."
* Yon has said that their spin on the settlement was "like them saying that because I didn't walk out on a lousy concert I gave the band a
* Yon not only didn't agree to be any part of the effort to sell a magazine that he feels is an insult to the American military,
he demanded they stop all such activity. They responded with false claims that this was part of the settlement, and then they offered
to pay Yon $20,000 more for the promotion uses, but only by taking the money from the donation they'd agreed to give Fisher House.
* They were trying to develop some immunity from any further bad publicity about this by enticing Yon to sell out knowingly so they
could smear him and turn public opinion against him.
* Because this company cannot understand anything except making money at any turn by any means and without any scruples, they have
never been able to "get" what this is really about. They don't have principles, they don't work from values, so they don't understand
what people are all upset about....they don't get how incensed people are that they launched a sleazebag magazine for which they'd
already had extremely limited interest from advertisers and for which sales predictions were dismal, by deliberately using an attack on
American soldiers as a way to sell copies. They did it deliberately on Memorial Day.
*They had a publicity event in Washington DC JUST THIS WEEKEND to explain that the cover story was their way of showing they are also
a serious political, hard news magazine...(of course, that doesn't explain the two spreads on rectal exams, decaying corpses or bloody
disembodied chicken heads...). They think because many Americans have doubts about the war in Iraq, they also don't support their
military. They are dead wrong, all the polls show that, but it is just another indication that this French company doesn't not understand
or respect American consumers.
* During negotiations, Yon learned that HFM had also used (without his permission) his iconic photo on the cover of the March issue of
CHOC, the 2 year old French language magazine upon which SHOCK is based. That magazine sold 350,000 copiesÂin France. They
triedÂat the last minuteÂto slip that into the deal which was hammered out for the SHOCK magazine. Yon refused that outright.
* They really seem to think we are idiots who will believe anything they say because they are magazine publishers...they apparently
were on a month long vacation when the blogosphere handed mainstream media Rathergate...they claim to be launching a magazine
that will be internet based but they were totally shocked by the reaction of the bloggers...
* In order to send this company a message about American consumers, we need to make sure that we are able to harness the power of
the blogs and focus it in a sustained way. Its important then that bloggers link to the "Make Yourself Heard" page and let us know they've
done so (there is a field they can do this right on the page) and we'll cross link.
*It's also important that bloggers who post on this and link to the page encourage their readers to "Communicate displeasure" and
specifically that they encourage people to take a minute and sign up for the petition and complete the form that captures what actions
they took. We know HFM will be trying to spin this as a big nothingÂ
they have a Âlet them eat cakeÂ attitude about angry people
protesting the way they do business.
* But if we can get people to report their efforts, this will prevent HFM from trying to minimize the impact of the blogosphere or from
distorting the facts. For example, we know that almost 1000 bloggers have posted on this, so we should have 5 to 8 thousand people
signed up for the petition and reporting on what actions they have taken to communicate their opinions to HFM. But we don't --so we
need to encourage people who have already called or emailed or stopped buying HFM magazines to visit the page and let us know what
HFM's last threat was to portray Yon and this campaign as "crazy" and by extension to depict the protesters as disorganized and
ultimately trivial. But Yon and other top bloggers are also reaching out to mainstream media and especially to freelance
photographers, illustrators and writers who are frequently bullied by media behemoths, and with people also encouraged to
contact local newspapers, radio and television stations, we can collectively insure that any attempt HFM makes to discredit this
effort will be transparent and will actually be just the latest example of HFM executives acting in ways that prove the veracity of
our growing list of complaints about this dinosaur stomping all over our newsstands with its sneering disdain for its American
customers (except of course for their dollars)
* At the end of the day as long as they sell magazines they consider themselves on the winning side of the dispute. But every magazine
they sell has at least one (and often many more than that) quality alternative, so people can participate in this "communiquÃ©" without
risking falling behind on fashion, automotive, photography, celebrity gossip, home decorating or teen idol news and trends. This is a
painless protest Ânow that the Make Yourself Heard page is up and updating continuously. A series of clicks enables people to send
emails to all the key players right from one page. Samples of the letters others have sent are right there on the page. We even have
bilingual visitors working on translations of the materials into a range of languages so that people from the 41 countries in which HFM
does business can participate in sending them a message about the importance of respecting their readers