Allowing for extensive freedom of speech, France is a country that is concerned by the question of the media. Indeed, everybody remembers that in January 2015, Charlie Hebdo was attacked because it had published provocative drawings and cartoons that fanatics did not appreciate.
Nowadays, the French population has access to a lot of information, that reach them in diverse forms. A French resident can watch serious news, or satirical shows that make fun of politicians and businessmen, such as “Les Guignols de l’info”, a very popular program in which each protagonist is played by a doll (see picture).
Thanks to all these different sources, one can surely forge his or her opinion on any subject.
But when is it “too much”? To what extent can the media influence or manipulate the population? In the past decades, the media has used new persuasion procedures, especially in politics: France encounters a massive abstention problem in elections, as at least 49% of the population did not vote in the regional elections in 2015. As a result, French media attempt to suscite emotion, appeal to the personal experiences of the voters, rather than using rational and analytical arguments. Many newspapers and TV channels are known for having a political preference, and the bias on events is more and more common in French news coverage.
What about social media?
France has the fourth largest number of internet users of any country in Europe (52.2 million), and 39% of French adults are more comfortable sharing online than in person. Moreover, French Internet users spent an average of 27.7 hours online every month, including 247.4 minutes on social media. But for now, social media is only used by news agencies and for personal accounts, as 95% of French companies don’t use social networks, but rather promote their activity through “regular” advertising.