How the French view my media habits

You might remember that I wrote a post last fall about my own, personal media habits and how they have been changing.

Based on observing only myself, I concluded that, contrary to what you might have read or heard in the media, there is no media crisis for citizens and consumers, who can inform themselves better than ever — and indeed that we may be at the beginning of a second Renaissance.

La Francophonie écoute

Well, somewhat to my surprise, that little post has had quite a career in the French-speaking world. It probably began when Francis Pisani, a respected French blogger in America, picked it up in Le Monde.

A while later, a French-Canadian newspaper, Le Devoir, ran a cover story (picture above) on it. 😯

And now Owni, a cutting-edge website, has not only translated my post but invited two experts to rebut my thesis. (As you know, intelligent rebuttals delight me, because they make me learn and refine my views, which is sort of the point of life, isn’t it?)

Divina Frau-Meigs

The first expert is Divina Frau-Meigs, a media sociologist and professor at the Sorbonne. In her rebuttal, she

  • concedes that access to news and information has become more “democratic” for those who are “intellectually and technologically equipped”, whom she calls the “info-riches”;
  • laments that this does not resolve the economic, social and cultural “divides” — in other words, she worries that people whom she calls “info-précaires” lose out;
  • dismisses the idea (which she believes I espouse) that we can just get rid of journalists, since most citizens don’t have the time to do the hard work of investigating and reporting on the world’s problems;
  • appeals for a wholesale reform of media education, both for the young and for poor adults;
  • sets out principles she believes should guide that reform.

Bruno Devauchelle

The second expert is Bruno Devauchelle, a researcher at a think tank in Lyon. In his rebuttal, he

  • redefines the crisis as one of overinformation;
  • argues that blogger-journalists like me feel good only because we have all the necessary skills to deal with this, whereas most young people today lack those skills;
  • also appeals for better education;
  • calls in particular for teachers to be trained in internet technology and internet culture;
  • calls for new pedagogic techniques.

De quoi s’agit-il?

I will respond to these rebuttals in a separate post. But first, I want to make sure that I do justice to Divina and Bruno. My own French went from passable (circa 1992) to laughable, so the translation was hard work for me. But among you, there may be more proficient speakers of French.

If you’re so inclined, read their rebuttals and put their main points, to the extent that I have not captured them above, in the comments.

And, of course, go ahead and give your own opinion.

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10 thoughts on “How the French view my media habits

  1. La Francophonie écoute… Are you sure? Rebuttal a point of life? Interesting. Could be, if…
    With all due respect the ‘experts’ rebuttal is… obvious, if not poor. Your blog outands, yes. Would have loved a deeper ad less generalized outcome. Sorry. And by the way: I started reading you because of Pisani’s recommendation.

  2. Andreas,

    I’m a member of Owni’s editorial team, and we are thrilled to learn that you paid so much attention to the articles we published.

    We will do our best to translate them for you (and our readers) so that you’ll be able to answer with full knowledge of the facts 🙂

    You’re not far from what the authors aimed at showing, and I’m sure the discussion will benefit to all our readers.

    We will send you the translations as soon as possible 🙂

    • Thanks, Guillaume. There’s no hurry.

      Maybe you can post an abbreviated translation here in the comments? That way, we can all parse it together….

  3. Education is the meme in France when it comes about the Internet. We just do not understand what mainstream means.

  4. A while later, a French-Canadian newspaper, Le Devoir, ran a cover story (picture above) on it.

    Which one is your story: Examined by City Council, or Education Bill Met With Overwhelming Support ?

    Judging from the pic, this may as well be The Parkersburg News and Sentinel.

  5. Glad to read they are going to translate it for you. I did read Divina’s answers. And thought her analysis was a bit common, general, regarding the actual revolution because of the web, its tools, its impact in our lives, not necessarily related to your blog, to your acute and well sustained perspective in the topics you choose to share with us. Your sense of humor, to name a virtue I cherish…

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