Sunday, November 25, 2007

Beardsley's Bread

A reader, Flávio Américo dos Reis, sent me the following:

Friday morning I heard Eleanor Beardsley reporting on the end of the transportation workers' strikes in France, and I was disturbed by what I heard - this from a woman who admits she's not moving back to the US because, as she says, "It's a nice life in France. People have more vacation, more time, you eat well (and) my husband has a really big job here that he wouldn't have in the US."

But after I read (in the same article above) that after graduation from Furman University in Greenville, South Carolina, she did a stint in the offices of Senator Strom Thurmond and US Congressman Floyd Spence, and did consultancy work for World Business, Inc. "helping European firms use World Bank financing for trade and investment activities and writing industry sector reports," I began to understand where she was coming from.

So it shouldn't have been a surprise to me when she reported (I think it was during one of those four minute, top of the hour segments) that "the majority of the French people are fed up with the strikers." Oh, really, Ellie? Who did you talk to, your rich buddies on the right bank of the Seine? Because that's not what I'm hearing in the French press, when the teachers also promised to strike in December, and the students continue to strike against Sarkozy's reforms, and the nurses are also promising to go on strike. That's not what I'm hearing or reading. In fact, the majority of the French people believe in something called "worker solidarity" and are quite accepting of "the right to strike" and "collectively bargain," and will not speak ill of their countrymen for exercising that right. Many polls didn't ask the same questions, either: one poll, CSA-Humanité (French communist party) prior to the strikes said there was 54% of the French in favor of the strike, while the right-wing, Ifop-Figaro (Le Figaro is like the Washington Times in France) said 55% were against.

So, it's hard to say "the majority of the French people" opposed the French strikes. I'd be curious to know the methodology used in some of these polls. But the lie "the majority of the French are fed up with the strikers" is good for American consumption. That'll keep the people here in their place.


Porter Melmoth said...

Thanks for the Beardsley background. There are those who adore her S. Carolina lilt in describing things Parisian, but I find her, predictably, just another tiresome NPR loudmouth, showing off to the ME/ATC crowd in some romantic locale, but without much talent - or even romance. Fortunately, radio is one of the most forgettable of media resources to absorb. With few exceptions, NPR personalities just don't have much staying power in the memory, and EB is typical. I've spent quite a bit of time in Paris, but I've yet to encounter an NPR reporter who's really captured the ambiance. Of course, Paris isn't the only locale in the world to be 'missed' by NPR types.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Porter:

I lived for a year in France (1988-89), while studying abroad as an undergraduate at the Université de Nantes. I am fluent in French (as well as my native Portuguese,English, Spanish and Italian).

I can tell you: most of the French people firmly believe in «Les Droits de l´Homme--et de la Femme» and «la solidarité».

When I hear EB talk, all I can think of is that Jacques Brel song spinning in my mind «Les Bourgeois, c´est comme les cochons, plus ça devient vieux, plus ça devient bête».

The French have possibly one of the few societies on earth where when the citizenry is fed up with their government, they can> actually shut the place down! Nurses will go on strike with postal workers, students will strike in sympathy, teachers follow in tow, etc. You can´t get two Unitedstatsians together on any issue. I may be all wet, but as long as I have lived here (for 26 years), I have yet to find social cohesion around (1) workers' rights (2) the right to health care (3) the right to an education (4) the right to be secure in your person and belongings, etc., etc., etc. There just isn't that kind of culture here, pardon me if I am wrong. Or maybe they have the people so thoroughly brainwashed that they don't know they all share the same values. That's probably closer to the mark.


Anonymous said...

When you take a good look into Beardsley's bio, you get a good idea of where her reporting is coming from. She's a "marketplace" mentality reporter.

another thing about her... ok, I'll say it.

She really, really has a voice for print.

Anonymous said...

o.k. folks - I must defend Ms. Beardsley. I do know eleanor beardsley - and she's no right winger, 'npr loudmouth' or 'marketplace mentality' reporter - whatever that is. I don't even think she's on the npr payroll - i think they pay her a pittance by the piece as a freelancer - avoiding paying her benefits, etc.

sure she did work for spence and thurmond (repubs from sc - where she's from) - but those were out of college first opportunity type jobs. she's been a lover of france from and early age, she began studying french with her dad reading asterix and obelix as a kid growing up in South Carolina while going to integrated city public schools, did foreign study in france when in college beginning many years of living in france since the 1980's. she landed a job as a producer for french tv news (TF1) in their Washington, DC beureau learning journalism on the job from the bottom rung - and then for the UN in the mission in kosovo. she endured several years of brutal pristina winters, with sporadic power and heat, and working for the UN beaurocracy as she began writing articles freelance from kosovo - and she totally backed in to the radio career when she got a digital tape recorder and landed some marketplace and 'the world' spots. she seemed to have a knack for getting inside looks at real life stories that were interesting. she's no professionaly trained journalist or pro radio voice, i agree with that, but she's real, has lived many years in france and travelled all over, so i think she has some authority to quote the french people in her pieces (though, yes she lives in Paris - kind've like living in NYC here I guess).

So give her a break, and don't assume things you don't know. go to and look up her stories, and google marketplace, world and christian science monitor stories - and i think you'll find that she's done some very compelling pieces and she's no corporate shill.

And on her voice and talent I like her because she's real, you can tell she goes around and talks to real people (did you hear her piece on the french restaurant for the blind where sighted people ate in the total dark? or the piece in the boulangerie conversing with the owner in french) - and there are many of us who love her 'non professional voice' and southern accented french.

so just like any journalist she can only report what she sees and hears - but that's all she does and I like how she sounds and how here pieces feel, and what they teach me. so you try going on a national radio show live with millions listening to converse with the host and you try to say things perfectly in such a short conversation. i'm sure it ain't easy.

Anonymous said...

I also happen to know Eleanor Beardsley. I believe I know her well enough to tell you that whatever bio you have on her is clearly not a reflection of who she is. We take the jobs we can get when we can get them, we stumble and learn. BFD so she worked for Thurmond, WBI, TF1, went to Kosovo and now freelances as a journalist. She’s pretty much made her own way, gone to places and done things beyond what most might have imagined she might have with her South Carolinian roots (nothing wrong with being form South Carolina).

I also happen to be half French and half American and live between both countries, have a bicultural education, so for what it is worth call me a hybrid. France is a great country as is the US, but for different reasons and both have contradictions in politics, society and culture that are sometimes difficult to understand. As the French say “Je t’aime, moi non plus”. Reporting is what it is and most often it is just a snapshot in time.

Guess what I sympathize with some strikes a strikers in France, but I also don’t like being held hostage at airports or in train station for days or weeks on end, Stuck at CDG or on a train platform in Gare du Nord. So think of it the snapshot analogy and how it applies to you in your everyday life.

The French love to complain and at the same time they don’t like to be “bousculés” in their daily routine. There are tradeoffs living in any country. Ellie made a choice not because of political convictions or economic philosophy, but for personal reasons and preferences the way most of us do when we have the good fortune of being able too. We all have contradictions in our lives and those who say they don’t are full of it… bovine excrement that is…


Anonymous said...

Mr. Americo,
I know you are a teacher and you are a horrible one at that. You scare your students, kick desks, call them a pack of wolves...etc. You should stop this immature behavior immediatly. And you shouldn't call random stuents dyslexic, or kick them out of class because you thought you saw them talking.

Anonymous said...

Eleanor Berdsley's voice is so annoying it's difficult to list all the faults, from valley girl annoying to sounding like it's such a chore just to spit the words out!
Bonnie Berman and her are probably the most annoying voices on radio.