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?)
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.
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.