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17.01.2020 Europe

French public interest in news down by 8 points

By Christina Okello with RFI
Anders Sandberg/ Flickr
LISTEN JAN 17, 2020

French people are less interested in news and consume less of it, according to a new survey, with 71 percent of respondents saying they don't trust news outlets to accurately report their concerns.

The public's interest in traditional media has fallen so low that only 59 percent of people say they still have a slight interest in what the media report, while four out of ten people have stopped consuming news altogether.

The findings were published in the annual Trust Barometer for 2019 by Kantar polling institute for the daily La Croix and represent an eight-point dip.

"This loss of interest, observed over five years, has been reinforced by news coverage that is centred almost entirely on the pension reform. It is a reform that few French people understand and which is covered in a very classic manner by journalists," Guillaume Caline, who carried out the survey for Kantar, told La Croix.

Ordinary concerns ignored
The Yellow Vest protest movement, which erupted in 2018, is thought to have driven a wedge between the public and the media.

The Yellow Vests often called out journalists for failing to report on daily concerns that mattered to ordinary people and sought to defend more local reporting.

More than a year after the movement for better of standards of living began, 71 percent of French people still reckon the media fail to give a realistic portrayal of their concerns.

Misleading
Other criticism levied against the media has been to mislead the public.

Last year, news outlets went into a frenzy when Le Parisien newspaper reported that Xavier Dupont de Ligonnes, a French fugitive wanted for killing his wife and four children eight years ago, had been arrested.

The man arrested turned out not to be the murder suspect.

Le Parisien was forced to apologise "for having made public information which turned out to be wrong". Several other media outlets, including AFP, offered similar excuses.

Sociologists note that young people are more likely to perceive inaccuracy and misinformation on television. Under 35s nowadays favour the Internet for their news consumption, although 66 percent of them believe online media is biased.

Too much, too little
For 2019, French people said the media talked too much about the Yellow Vests, the false arrest of Dupont de Ligonnes and the Notre Dame fire.

On the other hand, many regretted the lack of attention paid to the forest fires in Amazonia or California, Europe and the French government's plans to open medically assisted procreation (PMA in French) to all women.

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