Last June, the STJV testified in court in favor of journalists from Médiapart and Le Monde, against accusations of libel from Quantic Dream. Our presence met with several of our interests. First, to help journalists whose job to keep the public informed about, and make visible, the problems of our industries and our society in general, was threatened by what we consider to be a SLAPP suit. Second, to defend workers’ freedom to speak about their working conditions, which is vital.
Today, September 9th 2021, we learned, with great pleasure, that Médiapart won against Quantic Dream, the court having dismissed their libel accusations. The French justice system recognised the seriousness and the good faith of the journalists’ work. However Quantic Dream, in its violent initiative to clean-up its public image, has sadly managed to get the court to recognise a case of libel by Le Monde against them. We do not yet know how the court motivated that decision, but it diminishes the freedom of speech and voices of victims of sexism, sexual harassment and, in general, awful working conditions, to the benefit of bosses who use all their resources to silence all accusation.
We want to share our analyses on what came up during the trial, and on its outcome. These feedbacks come from our representative in court, and from the minutes of the hearings.
Hyperpersonalisation of problems
We notice that most of Quantic Dream’s arguments actually fall back to personal matters (“I never saw any shocking photomontage before the affair”, “I don’t understand these articles, everything is fine to me”, “I’m struggling to forgive”, “I barely know Canard PC, this is why we don’t sue them”, “I only have to answer to justice, the tax authorities [and other insitutions]”, …), in particular when the studio’s bosses fiercely persist in thinking the only reason a journalist would want to write an article accusing them of maintaining a toxic work culture would be a personal enmity.
Although personal sympathies can contribute to problems inside companies, it goes without saying that not everything has to do with it. Someone fighting to enforce their rights doesn’t necessarily hold a personal grudge against their boss. Before anything else, it is about enforcing unfulfilled commitments. Likewise, the STJV, as a union, doesn’t hold personal grudges : when we defend someone against their employer, we do it because the respect of everyone’s rights is a collective matter.
The appalling ignorance of bosses about everything which falls out of their realm
One of the outstanding moments of the trial was when Quantic Dream’s lawyer asked our representative : « Did you do any work for Médiapart [by explaining journalists the situation of the industry, and giving them contacts] ? ». We don’t have to shy away from it : the answer is yes. We constantly provide work, made possible by pooling the resources of volunteer workers, for video game workers. We do not need journalists to be complacent, we only need to tell them about the realities in our field, which we know quite well.
Conspiracy theories are not always where we think they are
From this hyperpersonalisation and ignorance to third-rate conspiracy theories, there is only a short step, crossed with ease here. Quantic Dream’s obsession with talking about the alleged damages caused by these articles reveals an out-of-touch vision of the world, where everything is owed to David de Gruttola and Guillaume Juppin de Fondaumière. And the term conspiracy is not misused here: it is indeed the same mechanism of rejection of reality that leads these wealthy and extremely privileged people to look for fictional tormentors, or to try to erase all criticism, even legitimate and sourced
Lessons from the judgment
The court recognised the good faith and seriousness of the work done by the Médiapart’s journalists. Let’s remind right away that in this case, justice does not pronounce on the veracity of the content of the articles, in one way or the other. Quantic Dream’s management would therefore do well to avoid claiming to be cleared of all suspicions, even though its claims have been dismissed. This ruling confirms that the work of the journalists in this case was legitimate, and carried out under all the conditions of professionalism and prudence required. It should also be noted that this judgment recognises the absence of personal animosity, which was central to the accusation brought by Quantic Dream. It is now high time for Quantic Dream’s management to put an end to its communication and intimidation campaign.
We are shocked by Le Monde’s conviction, about which we will need more information to understand the judgment, as the accusations of personal grudges ringed very hollow to us. We will communicate further abouth this judgment at a later date.
In this case, as in the vast majority of those in which we assist workers in court, testimonies and public statements are not actions taken lightly. In this case, as in so many others, it is simply the last resort for people who have been ignored or silenced. Now more than ever, the STJV is determined to reduce the imbalance of resources inherent in conflicts between employees and employers, by supporting those who have to defend themselves against companies that use all their wealth to hide their wrongdoings rather than to solve existing problems, by talking to journalists who are conducting these comprehensive and detailed investigations, and by defending the rights of each and every one of us by testifying in court.