Flocked in red marker with a large inscription “media caravan”, the metal trailer attracts attention. As he passes, we crane our necks and squint our eyes to try to decipher the demands that have spread across his bodywork: “talk to us about the peasants”, “put the spotlight on the common people and the retirees” or even “ we only talk about big cities.” No vandalism is to be deplored: contributions are even encouraged by Sophie Bourlet, Clémence Leleu and Timothée Vinchon, the three journalists who hitched the star caravan to their car.
Commissioned by the Amiens association Carmen, they traveled the roads of the community of communes of Val-de-l’Aisne for five days, between September 25 and 29, in a department where the illiteracy rate is among the highest. highest in the country (around 13% of the population, well above the national average of 7%). With residents, they discussed their relationship to information, news consumption and media perception, a few days before the government’s launch of the general information conference, this Tuesday, October 3.
Develop critical thinking among residents
Since 2020, the caravan has been traveling three to four times a year in the north of France. A traveling media education project, designed to “create dialogue and give voice to populations who rarely speak,” explains Clémence Boulfroy, director of the association. And it works: around the strange vehicle, which serves at the same time as bait, a support for conversations and a place to store equipment, tongues loosen.
“What show are you going to offer us? », asks Alix when she sees the curves of the caravan in the parking lot of the Bucy-le-Long media library, where the fifteen retired members of the Quatre Saisons club meet. “It’s you who are going to give us the show!” », replies Timothée Vinchon, accustomed to receiving “especially reproaches”. Is right. Questioned about her relationship with the media and information, the voluble septuagenarian opens the ball of disapproval.
News items like soap operas
On the front page of magazines aimed at retired female readers such as Prima and Pleine vie, she deplores seeing “only young girls on the covers”. “We are still beautiful with our white hair and our canes! “, she says outright. The assembly, almost exclusively female, nods in agreement. “And L’Union (the local regional daily, Editor’s note), what do you think of it? Are you reading it? », engages Sophie Bourlet. “Well yes, in case we see each other in there!” », Reacts René, 84 years old.
Like him, the majority of club members are loyal to the local duck, although there is “mostly bad news, like in the rest of the media”, notes Étiennette, 85, bitterly. However, she is keen on news items, which she devours like macabre soap operas. “Too bad we never know the end of the story, anyway. It makes you wonder what they are hiding from us,” she adds, suspiciously.
An ounce of distrust which does not surprise the three journalists. “It remains quite recurring, although less significant than at the launch of the caravan, in the middle of Covid, in the middle of an overdose of information and experts of all kinds,” notes Clémence Leleu. Nevertheless: a few hours later, the trio was happily described, by the owner of the local bistro, as “merchants of lies”.
“The hardest part is convincing people that they are interesting”
They laugh about it, not offended one bit. “Our presence at least has the merit of triggering a reaction,” notes the optimistic Sophie Bourlet. It doesn’t matter whether it is hostile or benevolent, the important thing is that it opens a discussion. » Clémence Leleu, for her part, understands that it can be “difficult to trust journalists who we never see, whom we do not know and whom we do not know how they work”.
To break this boundary and approach diverse audiences, the caravan changes its parking location every half-day. If many workshops take place throughout the week – sometimes at the Bon Repos nursing home in Braine, sometimes on the square in front of its rural home, for the youngest – it is in the Carrefour de Vailly car park -sur-Aisne, where no one is expecting it, that the trio chooses to install it on Thursday September 28 in the morning.
Here, it is a question of using persuasion to arouse the curiosity of passers-by who are in a hurry to go shopping. “The most complicated thing, often, is convincing them that they are interesting and that their experience is valuable,” confides Timothée Vinchon. The now well-dressed caravan and the broad smiles of the three journalists have their effect; a few onlookers agree to give them “two minutes, no more”, which sometimes stretch into dozens. They often distanced themselves from information.
“I boycott the media, it demoralizes me”
Some people talk about the cost of the press, which is now too high, or the overabundance of information on the Internet. Others, the successive closures of newsagents in the sector. Still others the weariness they feel with the news, like one in two French people according to La Croix’s 2023 barometer on trust in the media. “I watch BFMTV for two minutes a day, just to find out if it’s the end of the world, then I cut it off,” says Jocelyne. Radio, newspapers, social networks, I boycott the media, it demoralizes me. »
Angélique is more measured. A bubbly forty-year-old mother of a child with autism, she concedes that “the more we talk about a subject in the media, such as disability and caregivers, the more things progress, even if it takes a long time”. If she has abandoned the television news, she stays informed via TikTok and Facebook. More traditional, Arnaud prefers Le Monde and Franc-Tireur. The first for “raw information and reflection”, the other for “opposition and opinion”.
Throughout the conversation, Timothée Vinchon takes note of everyone’s comments, concerns and disappointments. These demands of the inhabitants met in the four corners of Val-de-l’Aisne will not disappear with the departure of the caravan. For each of its stations, an article appeared on the association’s website. “It offers a snapshot of the relationship to information that the people we met have, of what they expect from the media,” describes Sophie Bourlet.
A photograph which has already aroused the curiosity of Christophe Deloire, secretary general of Reporters Without Borders, designated general delegate of the General States of Information. Enthusiastic at the idea that their work can contribute to better understanding current issues in the world of media and information, the journalists in the caravan nevertheless hope that the government initiative will not be “a stab in the face”. ‘water “.
An exclusive survey to launch the Estates General
Commissioned from the Harris Interactive polling institute by the Ministry of Culture to serve as a first working basis for the general information conference, an exclusive survey on the French relationship with information appears this Tuesday, October 3. According to this one:
55% of respondents believe that the reliability of information has deteriorated in recent years. 24% think it has improved.
59% of French people surveyed trust public media to provide them with reliable information, 54% to private media and only 20% to social networks.
82% of those surveyed say they are experiencing a period of information overload.
68% believe that the media do not speak out enough about their concerns.