“Journalism was a real vocation for him, an obvious one”
“Fred was a sweet and cheerful person, so don’t be sad, I don’t think he would have wanted that. » Place de la République in Paris, the mother of Frédéric Leclerc-Imhoff, Sylviane Imhoff, spoke at length, alongside their loved ones, to pay tribute to her son. The young man told him that his departure for Ukraine represented “the very meaning of his professional commitment”. Journalist still anonymous a few days ago, Frédéric Leclerc-Imhoff has become a symbol, “His face is everywhere and everyone mourns him”. A 32-year-old image reporter (JRI), committed, perfectionist and attentive. « Fred’s murder is all the more horrific because it represents all that is good in this society »exclaims, moved, one of her high school friends.
“Fred was shooting too much, he wanted to be sure he had the right angle, the perfect shot” remembers Maxime Brandstaetter, journalist for BFMTV who went to Ukraine alongside Frédéric Leclerc-Imhoff. Words confirmed by his mother, she specifies that he « maintained the concern for the beautiful image, not in a desire for navel-gazing aestheticism, but as if to erect a rampart of humanity positive about barbarism ». Before leaving, the journalist had calculated with his companion, Sam, the probability of something happening to him. She came out very weak. Reached by telephone, His companion confided this anecdote, concluding: “A week ago, I understood that the dead of this war were much more than statistics”.
Hit on board a humanitarian convoy
Monday, May 30, Frédéric Leclerc-Imhoff goes on a report with Maxime Brandstaetter, also a journalist for BFMTV, and their fixer, Oksana Leuta. On board an armored vehicle, he is at the front to take pictures and speak with the organizers of this operation to evacuate civilians in Lyssytchansk. As the vehicle arrived on the outskirts of the city, it was targeted by a shell, so shrapnel fatally affected the image reporter. It’s the 8 th journalist who has disappeared since the beginning of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict.
“Always good advice, you fought for your fellow freelancers”
An image reporter for BFMTV for six years, Frédéric Leclerc-Imhoff had freelance status, that is to say he was paid by the job. This status, often precarious, is a choice for some journalists because it allows them to collaborate with several media, but this was not the case for them. He had worked exclusively with BFMTV for several years. His companion even specifies that « Contrary to what some media say, he did not choose to be a freelancer ». “Lately there couldn’t take it anymore, he worked every weekend. Financed it was complicated. He did not choose his hours, we always called at the last moment. He couldn’t foresee anything, because he never knew when he would be on a mission. He always canceled birthdays, appointments… He missed everything. » This frustration entrusted to Sam, his life partner, pushed him to doubt his commitment, « i it was at the point where where he asked himself the question of ‘stop journalism’. He was a member of the Syndicat National des Journalistes (SNJ), and learned a lot about the realities of this precarious status, hoping to change it one day.
The news channel nevertheless offered him a fixed-term contract for a few months before his departure for Ukraine, which he accepted. It is therefore not as a freelancer that he left on a mission. He hoped for a CDI later, which he saw himself refused even if his companion raises that the chain « did not really correspond to his values ». “He would have liked to buy an apartment one day, to have a stable life, to stop letting everything go at the last moment” explains his companion. A stable contract was therefore necessary to hope one day to achieve this goal.