Gerry McCann au festival d'Edinburgh
GMC's verdict on his family media coverage
transcrit par Nigel Moore
Réactions médiatiques à la disparition de MMC
Kirsty Wark - Ariel (BBC magazine) - 21.08.2007
It has become the picture that nobody tears down, Madeleine McCann's angelic face on posters downloaded and printed by people all over the world and stuck up in supermarkets, train stations, on airport jetties and in cinema foyers.
The picture is emblazoned across Jonny Wilkinson's jersey, on Premier League team strips, and on Ewan MacGregor's bike. Madeleine McCann is everywhere, and nowhere.
I can't think of any other story, so prominent for so long, where there are so few facts.
TV reporters have done thousands of pieces to camera eeking out the few reliable details, newspapers have contained screeds about the McCanns whose faces are as well known as many celebrities.
The last time I typed their daughter's name on Google it offered up more than two million pages.
The McCann campaign has been unprecedented and we, the media, have been willing participants. If you were in the McCanns' position I am sure you too would do everything in your power, and seize every opportunity to keep the story on the screen, online and on 24 hour TV.
But how did they achieve such blanket - and on TV at least - such uncritical coverage when hundreds of children disappear every year?
Was it because the family and their close circle of friends knew how to create massive and sustained interest that had a fleet of satellite trucks racing to the Algarve, or was there something about this little girl's disappearance that triggered a kind of collective sensation akin to the death of Princess Diana, and an international conversation point on blogs and chatrooms? Or perhaps both?
There is also the fact that the McCanns are telegenic and articulate - and are doctors, and therefore regarded as respectable members of society.
The broadcasters did not keep their distance. The BBC helped to organise the original televised statement which was pooled to British and Portuguese television stations, probably in the absence of any input from the Portuguese police whose rules and operational methods are different from what we are used to.
And early on, on 10 May, the controller of News 24, Kevin Bakhurst, wrote in his blog:
"We will continue to try to provide the high volume of coverage and updates that the audience wants while respecting the family's privacy and needs and while striving to separate real developments from rumour."
Since then there have been few real developments, so the McCanns in partnership with the media have staged a number of "events," the most famous being their meeting with the Pope.
There have been regular photo opportunities, high profile supporters and recently a series of interviews.
Even when the coverage has not gone their way I suspect that they will consider it of little importance in comparison with the importance of keeping Madeleine's face on the front page.
They are incredibly well plugged into the media, and have a campaign organiser, a media advisor who is the godparent of one of their children and a former lecturer in new media, and a roster of loyal friends who give their time, energy and expertise.
They all think laterally about how to produce a new angle on the story. In that way they remind me of the producers on Newsnight, and it's been that way from the beginning.
The morning after Madeleine's disappearance I was on my way to London to the programme, and at home in Glasgow, a neighbour whom we'd never met rang the bell.
She was one of Kate McCann's closest friends and she was very upset. She told my husband that Madeleine had disappeared and Kate and Gerry were frantic because the police had been slow off the mark.
They were desperate to get the story out and could I help? In fact the disappearance soon began running on all the outlets.
That kind of direct action has been a hallmark of the campaign. Creating a publicity engine and keeping the momentum up has given the McCanns a positive focus, and was achieved by them and their family and friends through an enormous amount of self discipline.
Has this tragic story created a "blueprint" for families who find themselves in similar terrible situations, or was there something unique to the McCanns?
We in the media should ask ourselves whether we would react the same way again, and again because the sad truth is that it will happen sooner rather than later.
Campagne MMC en Écosse
Gerald MC : It was but I think we were faced, errr... you know, on day one that, errr... there was 150 journalists outside the apartment, when we got back from the police station, so we had to make a very quick decision; either we didn't interact with them or we did, and, errr... there's two reasons: One, we thought it would help, errr... in the search for Madeleine, that was the key one, and the second thing is that, errr... to be honest, we thought it would be easier on us as well to interact and, errr... work with them rather than, errm... go away and hide. (1)
GMC : After the first... I would say the first two weeks we... we did very little media; we did a few statements, errr... to try and get information into the inquiry or, errm... I wouldn't say pacify, but, errr... dampen down some of the criticism that was going on which I just didn't think was helpful to the situation, and our focus has always been on Madeleine and trying to find her and doing whatever we thought was best.
Errr... There's no doubt that in the first few weeks, errr... in the first few days in particular we felt particularly helpless and then, by doing things which you had some control over, and influencing the search, made us feel better and what we... we've said many times is that in... at six months, we don't want to be looking back saying 'I wish we had done such and such', you know. We have done everything that we think will have an effect on the outcome, or potentially could have an effect. Of course, we know that all of this may have no effect whatsoever, but ultimately we don't know who's taken Madeleine, we don't know what the motive is, and we don't know where she is. (2)
DC : What effect is the publicity now having on you because it's changed, hasn't it? There's this constant drip, drip, drip of... of claims and reports and rumours from unnamed sources and... and the fingers been pointed at you and your wife again. I mean, how... how has all this been for you now?
The current level of activity, you know, I think you're absolutely right, there is a huge amount of innuendo which is being presented in various ways, suggesting that there may be evidence or facts behind it and there are none, and our opinion of what happened that night has not changed. We know certain facts, unfortunately because of the criminal investigation, we can't divulge them, and I want to make it absolutely clear, the reasons why we're not divulging the information; we will not make it easier for the perpetrator to cover their tracks. The police have all the information and we have bared our soul to them, and we'll continue to assist them in any way possible, but, you know, we have to keep silent. (4)
DC : Will there be a time when you'll come home from Portugal? Have you thought about when that might happen?
GMC : Well, from our perspective, and this goes back to day one and day two, we could not avoid the publicity; we never asked for it, we never wished we were in this situation. What we've done is to try and use it, errm... in a positive way to affect the... the outcome. In terms of the campaign, you know, we said 60 or 70 days ago that we would be stepping back from it, and we have done very, very little, errr... offensive media in terms of us coming out to campaign for Madeleine; we want Madeleine's image to be the face of the campaign, errr... but the situation's changed now, it's about the news story; errr... what Kate and I do feel is that we will have some role in the future, errr... whether that's public or private, but we will continue to, errr... champion the cause of child welfare issues. (7)
|Pendant qu'ils dormaient, l'ennemi vint||et sema de l'ivraie...||Qui est l'ennemi ?|
Chris Roberts : Well, I have to ask you this, I mean, I think it's fair to say that the vast majority of the media in Britain have been overwhelmingly sympathetic to your plight but that hasn't been the case in some sections of the Portuguese media, they're writing the most terrible things about you. Why?
CR : I mean, Gerry, I was reading this piece in... in the Portuguese media earlier this week which was specifically suggesting that you and your wife had... had killed Madeleine with some kind of overdose of sleeping tablets. I mean, where does this stuff come from?
(13) Rétrospectivement, eu égard à ce qui se passa le 8 août au DIC de Portimão (voir note 4), ce discours hâché évoquant des différences culturelles et le sensationalisme qui fait vendre les journaux est une tentative d'escamotage. Il est amusant que la propre PJ soit invoquée comme bouclier.