- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 4, 2013

A photo of French President Francois Hollande with a cheesy grin has sparked a censorship debate after it was scrubbed by the Agence France Presse.

Coined by the Times of London as the “village idiot photo,” AFP initially posted the picture on its website as available for downloading but later issued a “mandatory kill” notice, meaning the photo must not be used, the Telegraph reported.

AFP — which reportedly gets almost half of its income from government contracts — insisted the editorial decision was not brought on by pressure from the Elysée Palace.

“Has this photo been withdrawn because the Elysée intervened to ask us to do so? The answer is no, that’s absolutely clear,” AFP News Director Philippe Massonnet told the Telegraph.

Mr. Massonet said the decision to “kill” the photo was made after the photo went viral on Tuesday.

“It was decided to kill the photo as we considered in retrospect that it provided nothing in news terms,” he added, saying they decided to go with a photo where the president looks less clownish.

“There are choices to be made. In war photos, for example, we can decide not to broadcast bloodthirsty or degrading images,” he said.

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