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Attack Won't Stop Charlie Hebdo Magazine From Publishing

The French satirical publication will find the will and the funding to carry on skewering the powerful, experts say.
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Charlie will live.

That’s the conclusion of experts, who say that French satirical publication Charlie Hebdo, which lost some of its top editors and cartoonists in a brazen attack Wednesday, will find the will and the funding to continue to skewer politicians, businessmen and clerics.

On Thursday, the day after masked men stormed the paper’s Paris offices and gunned down 12 people, current and former staffers were pledging to continue publication. French media outlet Les Echoes reported that the paper, which ordinarily has a print run of 60,000 copies, was planning to publish 1 million next week.

Reuters reported that Charlie Hebdo will be published from the offices of the left-wing daily Liberation. "We have decided to continue Charlie with those who survived," Charlie Hebdo’s lawyer Richard Malka told Liberation, according to Reuters. "It's our way of saying that no, they did not kill Charlie, they haven't won."

“People who belong to this institution seem fearless, and whoever remains to carry the torch, it seems clear to me that even in a single day, we’ve seen how much support they have."

NBC News could not immediately confirm the reports, but media analysts said the plan to get an issue to newsstands matched the courageous spirit of the paper, which kept publishing despite a firebombing in 2011 amid a controversy over cartoons about Islamic Prophet Muhammad.

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“People who belong to this institution seem fearless, and whoever remains to carry the torch, it seems clear to me that even in a single day, we’ve seen how much support they have,” said Roy Peter Clark, vice president at media analyst The Poynter Institute. “I hope they can find a way.”

“It is hard to imagine that the French will let Charlie Hebdo die in the wake of this,” Brent Cunningham, deputy editor of the Columbia Journalism Review, said via email. “There have already been vows to give it whatever it needs to continue publishing.”

British newspaper The Independent reported that two French media groups had each pledged 250,000 euros to support the paper.

Guardian Media Group announced a donation of 100,000 pounds to the publication, Alan Rusbridger, editor in chief of Guardian Newspapers, said Thursday.

Ludovic Blecher, spokesman for the Fund for Digital Innovation of the Press — a joint initiative with Google and French press organization AIPG and one of the groups reported to be providing funding to the publication — said he couldn’t confirm the amounts. “We’re trying to figure out a way to find an exceptional answer to an exceptional situation,” he told NBC News in a phone interview.

He said they were still trying to figure out how to funnel the funds to the publication in an appropriate way. “What is sure is we will provide financial support with an important amount of money,” he said.

Charlie Hebdo has survived not only past brushes with violence, but also financial dire straits. Amid a lack of funds, the paper went on an 11 year hiatus, from 1981 to 1992, when it was reborn in its current form.

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Vacuum at the top

Harder than getting funded, however, would be replacing some of the publication’s braintrust -- including editor Stephan Charbonnier and economist Bernard Maris – who were the heart of Charlie Hebdo’s sharp and irreverent satire.

“One unique hurdle that it seems the effort will face is that this Charlie Hebdo had a group of really smart, really talented satirists working for it,” Mark Horvit, executive director of Investigative Reporters and Editors, said via email. “That will be hard to replicate... a quality level necessary to do satire and commentary well and in a way that honors the publication.”

It’s possible that Charlie Hebdo’s stories and cartoons could come from a crowdsourced talent pool, at least until the publication regroups and rebuilds its masthead.

“That’s a good idea and I think it makes sense,” Clark said. He added that there was precedent for this in investigative journalism. In 1976, Investigative Reporters and Editors members banded together to finish the work of Don Bolles, a Phoenix journalist who was murdered while investigating organized crime.

Clark said he didn’t think others would be dissuaded from carrying out Charlie Hebdo’s brand of provocative humor. “This kind of activity, the sort of forceful demonstration of freedom of expression, has always carried with it certain risks,” he said.