Olivier Royant, and his wife, during the July 14 parade on the Champs-#Elysées, in 2018. LUDOVIC MARIN / AFP
An emblematic figure of Paris Match has just died. At 58 years old, including thirty-five spent in the magazine, Olivier Royant, who suffered from a long illness, died on the night of Wednesday 30 to Thursday 31 December. Hired in 1985, after studying at Sciences Po and working on the free radio, he was a major reporter there, a foreign correspondent, assistant to the editorial staff before becoming its director in 2006.
The editorial staff paid him a vibrant tribute on Thursday, December 31, recalling his interviews “Presidents, Nobels, great writers, rock stars like Bono, with whom he had become a friend”. “Until the end, he was present for his teams, taking the helm of editorial conferences and participating in the closings”, the journalists were moved. “A fortnight ago, Olivier explained to us that the Duke of Edinburgh’s obituary absolutely had to be ready”, details one of them.
Despite the fatigue, Olivier Royant co-directed the interview with Barack Obama on the occasion of the release of his Mémoires and published in “one” of the magazine on November 25. Everything but a coincidence: the journalist, originally from Rostrenen, in the Côtes-d’Armor, but who grew up in a suburb of Essonne, kept from his time in the United States, where he was a correspondent from 1987 to 1998, a passion for American politics. “He was unbeatable on the Kennedys, on American presidents and vice-presidents”, reports Bruno Jeudy, head of the political service of Paris Match.
In 2018, the editorial director signed John, the last of the Kennedys, a book dedicated to John-#John, who died in a 1999 plane crash and was the son of the 35e President of the United States. He also interviewed Bill Clinton, and especially Donald Trump many times, when he was a real estate mogul. “#In the late 1980s, Trump was a follower of Paris Match. We were going to see him because he was colorful, he was a flamboyant billionaire, and then there was no off with him ”, tells the journalist in a video shot by Paris Match in 2016, remembering the time when, to his surprise, Michael Jackson was in the private plane that Trump is showing him around. No wonder the president of the first world power greeted the boss of the weekly, during his trip to Paris.
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Rather right-wing Gaullist tendency, the editorial director of Paris Match, a subtle mixture of people and news, unlike many newspaper bosses, he had no taste for French politics, for which he had little esteem and which he distrusted. His appointment in the midst of the crisis in 2006 showed him how close relations between the press and politics could be. “To be poisonous”, explains a journalist. His predecessor, Alain Genestar, was brutally dismissed after the publication of a photo of Cécilia Sarkozy in the company of Richard Attias. A cliché little appreciated – to put it mildly – by the former President of the Republic Nicolas Sarkozy, a personal friend of Arnaud Lagardère, the owner of the title.
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