January 9, 2015

Charlie Hebdo announces 1 million copies of next week’s issue


Screen shot of Charlie Hebdo's new website.

Screen shot of Charlie Hebdo’s website this week, with the refrain “Je suis Charlie.”

Charlie Hebdo, the left-leaning French satirical magazine that was massacred early this week, has announced that it will proceed with next week’s issue. Rather than a typical run of 60,000, the surviving staff will print one million copies.

Both of the paper’s distributors have agreed to work without payment. The Digital Press Fund (which is funded by Google) donated 250,000 Euros to help with associated costs. Le Monde, Radio France, and French Télévisions have asked for donations, too. News organizations and cities took time to honor the eight journalists and four others killed with black signs that read, “Je suis Charlie.” The magazine’s website has adopted the slogan as well.

In case you were wondering: Rusty Foster explained yesterday that Hebdo is short for hebdomadaire, which means weekly; Charlie is simply borrowed from the cartoon boy who never manages to kick a football. Max Read put together a history of Charlie Hebdo‘s comics this week for Gawker.

In the words of Arthur Goldhammer at Al Jazeera, Charlie Hebdo is “an equal opportunity offender” that “reveled in its freedom to vex, irritate and derange.”

More kindly put by Anthony Lane yesterday:

One of the joys—more often than not, a joyful embarrassment—of a democracy is that it allows time and room for people who find the whole lark of maturing, whether in politics or in personal conduct, to be overrated…. Nobody could accuse the paper of being philosophical, even in Paris, but it is the very definition of an omelette—dished up hot and consumed in haste. The notion that it might be worth killing for is, to an extent, the blackest and bitterest fuss that it has ever engendered. But could it be worth dying for?

Google has carefully supported the magazine’s right to publish without endorsing any specific material. Ludovic Blecher, director of the Google IPWA Fund for Innovation, told The Guardian, “We must enable them to be able to write, even if we don’t agree, it’s a question of diversity of speech…. The role of the fund is to help the press. We’re playing our role.”

PEN composed an open letter (already signed by Margaret Atwood, Teju Cole, Salman Rushdie, and just about every other writer you can think of) to remind governments around the world that offensive speech never justifies violence.

Even with the outpouring of support from journalists and citizens across borders, putting together an issue in the wake of this week’s events will not be easy for the magazine staff. Patrick Pelloux, a doctor who worked with Charlie Hebdo, told The Guardian, “It’s very hard. We are all suffering, with grief, with fear, but we will do it anyway because stupidity will not win.” But they will go forward, because they do not want the editors to die “for nothing.”


Kirsten Reach is an editor at Melville House.