Daniel Schneidermann is a French journalist, born in Paris on April 5, 1958, who focuses on the analysis of televised media. He is mainly active in weekly columns—in the past in Le Monde and presently in Libération and on a video channel: Arrêt sur images (Freeze-frame), formerly broadcast by the public TV channel France 5, but currently financed by subscription. The television show was canceled in 2007 by France 5 direction, an incident that led to the creation of the Arret Sur Images web site.
After his studies at the Centre de formation des journalistes, Daniel Schneidermann joined the newspaper Le Monde in 1981, becoming a foreign correspondent in 1983. In 1992, he began writing daily columns on television for Le Monde, critiquing the way in which TV presents information and influences viewers, continuing the tradition of television criticism begun thirty years earlier by writers like François Mauriac or Morvan Lebesque (see, on this subject, the book The Critical Eye - The Television Critic (L'œil critique - Le journaliste critique de télévision) by Jérôme Bourdon and Jean-Michel Frodon.)
In 1995, the success of his written columns allowed him to create a weekly program on France 5 called "Arrêt sur images" ("Freeze-Frame"), which he both produced and moderated. The journalist Pascale Clark anchored the show with him during the first year. Arrêt sur images seeks to "decode" the televisual landscape, analyzing the sources and influences that affect the narrative use of media. The program tries to react to the interests of its subscribers. Each month, an internet "forum-master," who is responsible for following the viewer debates in the internet forum for Arrêt sur images, comes on the show to question Daniel Schneidermann about remarks submitted by the contributors to the site.
Schneidermann continued to write columns, which became weekly, for Le Monde until he was fired in October 2003, after the publication of his book The Media Nightmare (Le Cauchemar médiatique). In this book, he regretted that the management of Le Monde had not responded to criticism directed at them by the authors of the book The Dark Side of Le Monde. (La Face cachée du Monde.) His last column for the paper (Une chronique à la mer ) expresses his disappointment with their decision.
Schneidermann shows an equal interest in analysis of the internet as a source of data, notably in regard to the development of blogs, and of the Wikipedia website. In an experiment intended to test the capacity of Wikipedia to tolerate a critical discussion about itself, and to observe the collective editing of its articles, he introduced the two following sentences into the present article: "In 2005, with David Abiker and Judith Bernard, he created the Big Bang Blog, in order to explore “everything which cracks apart and everything which resists” in the world of media. In one of these blog entries, he denounced the anonymity of the authors of Wikipedia articles in general, and this one in particular."
The blog will allow him to express ideas which would not have a place in his columns or his TV programs as well as to defend himself from the criticism he expects to receive.
As a media critic, Schneidermann has become the target of criticism, either directed at himself personally or at his show, Freeze-Frame.
A January 20, 1996 Freeze-Frame episode focused on criticism by sociologist Pierre Bourdieu, who was invited to join journalists Jean-Marie Cavada and Guillaume Durand. Bourdieu believed that the show had not actually allowed him to express himself and confirmed his original idea that “television can’t be criticized on television;” Daniel Schneidermann responded that Bourdieu's criticism showed a misunderstanding of how television actually worked. In 1996, Bourdieu published the book “On Television” (“Sur la télévision"), while Schneidermann, in 1999, brought out "About Journalism After Bourdieu" ("Du journalisme après Bourdieu.")
The film Enfin pris?  (Caught at last?), directed by the journalist Pierre Carles, who worked with Schneidermann for a short period, features Schneidermann as its protagonist, a character Carles seems to suspect of partiality and denial. The movie is based on scenes from the episode with Pierre Bourdieu, and refers to the fact that, at a later time, the CEO of Vivendi Universal, Jean-Marie Messier was invited to a "Freeze-Frame" show, by himself, where Schneidermann challenged Bourdieu to appear on the program in debate format.
Dismissal from Le Monde
Besides the controversy surrounding the book The Dark Side of Le Monde (La Face cachée du Monde) by Pierre Péan and Philippe Cohen, Daniel Schneidermann criticized, in his own book The Media Nightmare (Le Cauchemar médiatique) the reaction of the management of the daily paper, stating that they did not respond to the arguments presented in the book. The directors of Le Monde fired him in October 2003 on the grounds of "legitimate and serious cause": according to the paper, a passage in Schneidermann's book was "detrimental to organization for which he works." The journalist took the paper to labor arbitration in Paris, which decided in his favor in May 2005. Le Monde has appealed this decision.
On the other hand, in 2003 Schneidermann himself fired a freelance employee of Arrêt sur images and a moderator of the Internet forum, whom he accused of behavior contrary to the principles of the program. This dismissal was condemned by the courts on May 20, 2005 as abusive because it did not have sufficient cause.
Accusations of plagiarism
In 2000, Schneidermann published The Lunacy of the Internet, a book which reprinted a series of articles originally published over the course of the summer in Le Monde. He was accused of plagiarism by several writers from websites from which he had used passages without citing their source. Schneidermann defended himself by saying that the articles were based on sources that were too numerous to possibly cite explicitly.
On the subject of media frenzy:
"In the maelstrom, all the protagonists get confused, those who speak and those who listen, journalists and readers, witnesses and participants, all spread the same message. The surging river doesn't let anyone get to the shore." (Le Cauchemar médiatique, 2003)