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Monday, 14 September 2015

Claire Chazal's classy farewell

Another page has turned in broadcast journalism in France.

Sunday evening witnessed a classy farewell from, Claire Chazal, the woman who has anchored the lunchtime and evening weekend news on TF1 for the past 24 years.

Claire Chazal (screenshot, TF1 - her last news programme)

Chazal was unceremoniously "given the boot" after returning from her summer hols.

In much the same fashion as Patrick Poivre d'Arvor (PPDA) back in July 2008, Chazal was "thanked for her services" and given just a few weeks notice.

Indeed, PPDA (among many others) even Tweeted his support and admiration after Chazal's last broadcast, saying pointedly how she had shown "an elegance most definitely missing in her boss" Nonce Paolini.

PPDA Tweet

Her departure probably didn't come as much of a surprise. In fact, it has been on the cards for some time, especially after PPDA was shown the door.

They both came from a different era in terms of news broadcasting.

Falling audiences (ah yes - the news isn't really just about "news" now, is it? Ratings...and advertising revenue also count) and a desire from the Powers That Be to "rejuvenate" the channel's news team are probably the main factors leading to Chazal's rather fast dismissal.

She'll be replaced by her summer stand-in (and 20-year younger) Anne-Claire Coudray.

Chazal's "style",  deferential and somewhat staid, has come in for a fair amount of criticism over the years and the 58-year-old, no matter how popular she might be among the French, has often been perceived as "soft" on her studio guests.

The most recent example came four years ago when  the former International Monetary Fund boss, Dominique Strauss Kahn chose Chazal's evening news programme to declare his innocence and admit to only having made a "moral error" after alleged  rape charges against him in New York had been dropped.

Chazal, a close friend of DSK's then-wife, Anne Sinclair, didn't pursue any real line of journalistic questioning, allowing her "guest" to have his say.

And that was very much her "technique" over the years: one which quite possibly endeared her to the public but didn't sit particularly well with "real news" gatherers.

Chazal's final "goodbye" and a montage of some of her moments, used to pay tribute to her by her colleagues, were fittingly graceful.

She thanked viewers and those with whom she had worked, saluting the "professionalism of the TF1 editorial team"  saying that she left her post with "immense sadness" but wished her successor, Coudray, "as much enjoyment as she had had."

Claire Chazal's classy farewell - would you really have expected anything less?

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