Barometer of trust in the media, the reactions of Internet users

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Many comments accompanied the file of our Barometer The cross/ Kantar published Thursday, January 24, 2019. They express a general disavowal towards the media, but also a requirement and new expectations vis-à-vis information.

Read the six comments posted on the site The cross, and of the sixty left on our Facebook page, the observation is striking: if the first ones give an analysis starting from the topics tackled by the article, the seconds express a point of view much more general on the media system and the perception of the journalists, judged to be "Not free", "Disconnected", and suspected of not saying everything, just like police violence during demonstrations of "yellow vests".

Three types of criticism are recurrent:

1. The media are not free

"The media belongs to the billionaires and tells what pleases the billionaires", says one user. " Since the financiers bought the newspapers and the radios, the journalists self-censure to please their employers », adds another. Even newspapers that do not belong to large fortunes are suspected of not being free because they aret "subsidized" by the state.

The concentration of the media, which has accelerated over the last fifteen years, has benefited industrial and financial groups. Great fortunes (Bernard Arnault, Arnaud Lagardere, Serge Dassault, Patrick Drahi, Vincent Bollore … and more recently the industrial Daniel Kretinsky) have indeed invested in media, sometimes moribund and whose financial value had depreciated.

Media barometer, journalists summoned to question themselves

However, when a media outlet is bought by a businessman, the journalists who work there do not suddenly give up their journalistic requirements and their ethical principles (from the Munich Charter), which frame the rules of practice of their business. profession. A party can leave the company by playing their conscience clause, and those who remain can exercise their vigilance within, for example, a society of journalists to enforce the independence of their media, or, failing that, publicly denounce any interference in the editorial.

Rare are the shareholders who enter a logic of "arm wrestling" with their writing, as did Vincent Bolloré in 2016 with iTélé (now CNews). A shareholder can however act on the information by pushing towards the exit of the too vindictive journalists (as with iTélé) or by appointing directors whose strategic orientations (economic model, permeability between editorial and publicity …) or editorial (big investigations or race to instantaneity) will influence the quality of the information.

Whatever the reality of the independence of the journalists, the mere suspicion of pressure or self-censorship on the part of the journalists is enough to arouse distrust.

2. Journalists are formatted and disconnected

"It seems that a generation of journalists has been formed to defend not information but unique thought", says one user. "I do not think the media are still under the pressure of power in place, but, adds another, they practice a kind of self-censorship, surely and they are prisoners of a kind of good thinking. "

All from the same socio-cultural and ideological mold the journalists? Unlike the previous century, when a majority of journalists were "trained on the job", the level of training has risen considerably. The courses are quite diversified, with however an overrepresentation of the literary, legal or political sectors. Of all journalists, a minority were trained in journalism schools recognized by the profession, according to the Observatory of press professions.

These long trainings presuppose that they come from families able to finance them. The majority of journalists, however, are not from the higher social classes and many devices (in schools of journalism or media) have been set up to promote this diversity of profiles and thus better listen to the people.

Regarding incomes (median income of 1,700 to 3,600 € depending on the situation), the profession makes the big difference between the freelance journalist of the written press and the 1% of well-paid television stars. Part of the profession is increasingly precarious, especially photojournalists as shown in a 2015 study of the Civil Society of Multimedia Authors (Scam).

VIDEO – Media Barometer, "There is hypersensitivity to feeling well represented"

3. Journalists do not say everything

"Why the media do not relay the truth about police abuses since November 17, I have been present from the beginning in the demonstrations (…) and it's getting worse", asks for example this surfer.

This topic may have been slow to emerge in traditional media, while social networks relayed photos (not always reliable as shown by the place and date of their first publications) showing injuries. A journalist, David Dufresne, did the first work of verification and interpellation.

The rest of the press followed after investigative work and obtaining figures from the other party, namely the Ministry of the Interior, the verification and the contradictory being basic rules of journalism.

Aude Carasco

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