Christophe Deloire in Paris on October 6, 2023.

Christophe Deloire, secretary general of Reporters Without Borders, died following a fast-growing cancer on Saturday, June 8, at age 53 in Paris, Le Monde has learned from the non-governmental organization. The journalist had recently been hospitalized in Paris after the late discovery of brain tumors.

In July 2023, Deloire was appointed by Emmanuel Macron to head a steering committee for the General States of Information (EGI). These are due to be completed by the end of June. The French leader had made the EGI a campaign promise in March 2022. Through this initiative, Macron wanted to “combat all attempts at interference and provide journalists with the best framework for fulfilling their essential mission.”

At the time, Deloire defended the need to “invent a French model to respond to the upheavals in the field of information” in the face of the crises – technological, economic, geopolitical and more – that journalism is currently facing. “We can’t get out of this by solving problems piecemeal,” argued this son of schoolteachers born in 1971 in Paray-le-Monial, eastern France. It’s a question of “protecting our freedom of opinion by mastering technological innovations and supporting news producers by modernizing the legal framework,” argued Deloire, who used to be the director of the Centre de Formation des Journalistes, a journalism school he headed between 2008 and 2012. He previously worked for the newspaper Le Point from 1998 to 2007, in the society and politics departments as an investigative reporter. He also worked for both public and private television channels.

“A pillar of the organization and a tireless defender of the right to information, Christophe left his mark on the work of the General States of Information through his commitment, his convictions, his energy, his attentiveness, but also his humanity,” was the reaction of the members of the EGI to the announcement of the passing of this pleasant and cheerful man.

‘Journalism was his life’s struggle’

Beyond these recent responsibilities, he embodied the face of the NGO Reporters Without Borders since 2012, when he had the difficult task of taking over from Robert Ménard. Ménard, who is now the mayor of the southern city of Béziers was elected with the support of the far-right Front National party. Willing and ambitious, Deloire managed to turn the “Ménard page” and even succeeded in transforming the organization into a “global champion of the defense of journalism,” as Reporters Without Borders hailed in a statement. They described “a tireless defender, on every continent, of freedom, independence and pluralism, in a context of informational chaos.” “Journalism was his life’s struggle, which he waged with unshakeable conviction,” stated the NGO.

Most recently, he was involved in denouncing the appointment of Geoffroy Lejeune (a well-known figure in far-right media) as head of Le Journal du Dimanche, France’s only Sunday paper, in June 2023. “We’re here to prevent another editorial carnage,” Deloire proclaimed at the JDD editorial support evening on June 27, 2023, in Paris, referring to iTélé, Europe 1, Prisma and Paris Match, all controlled by billionaire Vincent Bolloré and which have suffered similar fates. Interviewed on radio station France Inter on July 1, RSF’s secretary general didn’t mince words: “Where Bolloré goes, journalism goes. He is an ogre who digests the media and transforms them into organs of opinion.”

In February, Deloire won a long-running battle with the French Regulatory Authority for Audiovisual and Digital Communication (Arcom) over the case of CNews (a news channel belonging to the Canal+ group, owned by the Vivendi group, whose main shareholder is Bolloré. It is often compared to Fox News). Reporters Without Borders brought the matter to the Conseil d’Etat (France’s highest administrative court), which asked Arcom to be more uncompromising with future TV channels in terms of pluralism.

In an unprecedented decision made public on February 13, the Conseil d’Etat gave the French broadcasting regulator six months to respond to the NGO’s request. “This is a historic decision for broadcasting regulation, for democracy and journalism,” declared Deloire at the time, delighted that “the Conseil d’Etat has overturned Arcom’s refusal to take action against CNews.”

The authority was summoned to find a new way of measuring the pluralism of viewpoints given air time. The Conseil d’Etat ruled that Arcom should not have limited itself to calculating the speaking time of politicians in order to give its approval to the Vivendi group channel, given that the diversity of opinions is not guaranteed on its platforms, with too much space given over to the ideas and voices of the far right. “We need to find a system that doesn’t turn out to be labyrinthine,” said Deloire, giving Arcom the responsibility for determining the best method to do so.

In reaction, all the stars of the media owned by Bolloré attacked Reporters Without Borders and its media representative for several days, accusing it of “abusing freedom of expression.” “They’re talking nonsense. I’m going to Praud’s [show] to try and restore a factual foundation,” Deloire wrote on his way to appear on CNews, in a text message combining hope and candor. He tried unsuccessfully to explain that all TV and radio channels would be affected by this change but was overwhelmed by the ambient hubbub and the insults hurled at him.

Translation of an original article published in French on; the publisher may only be liable for the French version.