Albert Londres at the BNF: 140 years later, what have we done with the freedom of the press?

This fall, the BnF is hosting the 83rd edition of the Albert-London Prize, the prestigious French journalism award, which each year honors three young reporters in the print, audiovisual and publishing categories.

The BnF and the Albert Londres Association wish to celebrate this fundamental moment in the journalistic and political life of our country and to revisit the debates and questions that led to the drafting of this great law of the Republic. In addition to the award ceremony, which will take place on November 15, the Library will host several events around Albert Londres and the issue of information.
From November 9, the BnF will offer an immersion in its press collections, on themes such as women reporters or the little-known figure of Albert Londres the photographer. On November 16, as part of the “Cinémas de Midi” program, two documentaries that have won awards in previous editions will be screened. Finally, on November 19, the winners and guests of the Prize, BnF curators, researchers and journalists will gather for a day of study on the current state of journalism and press freedom.

Presentation of the Albert-London Prize

November 15, 2021, 6:00-10:00 pm, Grand Auditorium, BnFI François-Mitterrand

“Our role is not to be for or against, nor to do harm, it is to carry the pen in the wound” said Albert Londres. These words have become a mantra of the journalistic requirements of the Albert Londres Prize Association. On November 15, the Albert-London 2021 prizes will be awarded in the Grand Auditorium of the BnF, the 83rd for the written press, the 37th for audiovisuals and the 5th for books.

Law of July 29, 1881: What have we done with the freedom of the press?

November 9 – December 31, 2021 Library for all publics – Rooms A & B – BnFI François-Mitterrand

This fall, on the occasion of the anniversary of the 1881 law on freedom of the press, the reading rooms of the François-Mitterrand site dedicated to the audiovisual and the press will be decorated with the colors of the Albert-London Prize.
Starting November 9, readers and visitors will be able to discover the history of the law, from 1789 to 1881, through the Library’s collections. Other themes covered in this presentation: the great figures of women reporters such as Nellie Bly and Andrée Viollis, a lesser-known side of Albert Londres, that of photographer, as well as his great front-page reports, but also the history of the prize, from the first winners in 1933 to the present day.
Free admission

Noontime Cinema – Around the Albert-London Prize: Telling the War

November 16, 2021, 12:30 pm – 2 pm, Petit auditorium – BnFI François-Mitterrand

The “Cinémas de midi” sessions are an opportunity to discover documentary films from the BnF’s audiovisual collections on the big screen. On the occasion of the Albert-London prize at the BnF, a screening will feature two documentaries, awarded the Albert-London Prize for Audiovisual Documentary in 1987 and 1994, and yet more relevant than ever.

  • Lebanon: The Land of the Living Dead, Frédéric Laffont – Albert-London Prize 1987, 13 min The daily life of a country at war is not only about the dead and the wounded. Through the testimonies of the Lebanese, an entire country takes shape, put on antidepressants to survive in the midst of the bombs.
  • Rachida – letters from Algeria, Florence Dauchez – Albert-London Prize 1994, 52 min

Rachida, mother of seven children with different destinies, confides in the director Florence Dauchez. Her family, torn between individual freedom and the weight of tradition, embodies the contradictions of Algeria.
In partnership with the University of Paris and the Cinémathèque du documentaire.
Free admission – reservation required via the Affluences application
Health pass and mask required

Study day

Law of July 29, 1881: What have we done with the freedom of the press? November 19, 2021, 9:30 a.m. – 6:00 p.m., Grand auditorium, BnFI François-Mitterrand

140 years ago, by 444 votes to 4, the law of July 29, 1881 was voted in the Assembly. Often misunderstood, it nevertheless structures freedom of expression on essential points. 140 years later, it is still at the heart of debates in France and in the United States. A day to reflect, learn and debate on the issues that are shaking up journalism. Post-truths, the drift of digital technology (of which the Pegasus affair is a perfect illustration), media centralization: so many questions are being asked today about the freedom of the press and confidence in its treatment of the news.
History, and in particular press archives, are here sources of reflection on fake news, on Albert Londres’s commitment, on the now almost forgotten presence of women reporters at the beginning of the 20th century. On November 19, 2021, journalists, researchers and historians will question the current state of the journalistic profession during a study day. Composed of five round tables, and in the presence of members of the Pulitzer Prize, it will question the information around the themes of freedom, trust, money, truth and reporting.
In the presence of : Jean-Marie Charon (sociologist), Sonia Devillers (France Inter), Stephen Engelberg (Pulitzer Prize), Claude Guibal (France Inter), Martine Laroche-Joubert (France Télévisions), Samuel Laurent (Le Monde), Mindy Marques (Pulitzer Prize), Olivier Milot (Télérama), Antoine Perraud, Laurent Richard (Forbiden stories), Isabelle Roberts (Les Jours), Tristan Waleckx (France Televisions)

Free admission – reservation recommended via the Affluences application

Health pass and mask required

The view of Hervé Brusini, president of the Albert-London Prize jury

“The BnF has a direct connection with Albert Londres, since it preserves the written testimony of the reporter’s articles as they were offered to the reader of the Petit Journal, for example. And then, little by little, under our gaze, the library’s heritage collections come to life. We are invited to the last adventures of Albert in the midst of the other great titles of the time. Africa, Asia, the hell of the prison, or “at the madmen’s”, photos appear. They are also signed by London. If you listen carefully, in the silence of the reading room, you can hear the clash of wars, the cries of pain, the denunciation of injustice… In short, the archive invites you to travel, to understand the world, and also to discover the history of information, which is too often lived without history. This is the link between the Albert-London Prize and the BnF: to read in black and white the connection between archives, journalism and democracy.
The presentation of the Albert-London Prize at BnF will also see the creation of a series of five podcasts, to be listened to on BnF’s channels. Each episode will be devoted to a theme, such as the reports of Albert Londres or women reporters.