I am pleased to have the opportunity today to meet with the members of the National Conference of Journalism Professions and all those who are interested in its work to come and tell you, how much I value the questions that are yours today, about what journalism is today and what it will be tomorrow, given the economic context of the sector—it’s not going well. but also the changing uses and nature of information in the digital age. Tell you also how essential his reflections are to offer perspectives, to the journalists in office but also to the young people whom, for many of you, you are training today.
By federating since 2009 the journalism schools whose teachings are accredited by the profession, the professional organizations of journalists and employers of the written press and audiovisual and several experts in the field of training of journalists, the CNMJ is a unique place to meet and reflect on the future of the profession of journalism, on the challenges of training in this profession that is unlike any other and on the profound upheavals in the world of news production.
Since this year, dear Jean-Marie Charon, you have agreed to take over the presidency of the CNMJ after Patrick Pepin, whom I salute and who held this presidency very passionately for three years. This year is a turning point in the work of your conference: after having talked a lot about training standards, the weight of ethics in it, you are working more widely on the transformation of professions. This year also marks your desire to open the reflection to foreign experiences in order to better understand the profound developments of the profession of journalist in different countries.
These developments are also underway in France. The Internet, social networks and collaborative work are a real daily challenge for the press and other traditional media. Editorial teams are already feeling the changes in their working methods.
These technological developments are accompanied by a major transformation in the work organisation of press companies. In addition to journalists in the traditional sense, there are now other actors involved in the creation of information: web technicians, network specialists, data analysis specialists, external contributors, experts or Internet users. I remain convinced that these new professions, or new contributors, can be a source of enrichment for the media, if they multiply points of view and if it is accompanied by a work of deciphering, of reliability, of putting in perspective information.
However, it is clear that, all too often, their use also means lower costs for publishers, and ultimately a standardization of content that is probably not unrelated to a decrease in readers' consent to pay. By way of illustration, the work of photojournalists, which is now threatened by the increasing use of non-professional or unnamed photographs, often because they originate from low-cost communication services or image banks.
In the face of these upheavals, the worst attitude would be to do nothing, thinking that no new media has ever killed its predecessors.
On the contrary, we must anticipate these changes in order to better prepare for them. That is why any prospective approach like yours is useful.
This morning’s programme has led you to discuss new business models for media companies and statistical data on employment in these changing companies.
The question is really essential: what will be the place of the specific competence of journalists in companies where technology, data journalism, is developing, where the demand of the public is increasingly moving towards free and fast information?...
How can the State, and in particular the Ministry of Culture and Communication, intervene to accompany these changes?
The department, for me, obviously has to continue to ensure pluralism of expression. More importantly, the department needs to reaffirm its role as an advocate for quality information. Because when it comes to information, we live in a country of great freedom. But the quality must be there and the richness of the content is what will allow professional media to maintain and progress in a world where everything is available, the worst as well as the best. Training in the profession of journalist, whether it is the initial training of young people preparing for this profession or the professional training of existing teams is a fundamental challenge.
In the context of my current reflection on the reform of press aid, two main measures seem to me to go in this direction:
Publishers of print or online press that benefit from press aid will be strongly encouraged to respect the rules of good professional practice and may see their aid decrease if they do not respect their commitments. I see State aid as support and encouragement for quality, including in terms of training of teams and the use of professionals, both journalists and photojournalists recognized as such.
Similarly, I would like to set up an annual conference of publishers next year, which I see as a major meeting to set the State’s priorities for the press. And I hope that it is not just a question of money: this conference must be an opportunity to reaffirm to the publishers the stakes represented by the training of journalists and editorial teams, in the fields of new technologies or professional ethics, for example to meet the new requirements of readers but also to facilitate the evolution of business models of press companies.
In this area, I will carefully observe the paths that may emerge in the context of your work.
Finally, I think that the sharing of experience that you have organized this year to highlight the innovative experiences of foreign media is essential. I believe strongly in the need to create places of experimentation, research and creation where the sharing of experience is constant. In these “labs”, investment in research leads to solutions. These innovative approaches are probably the only way forward for journalism and the media that employ them.
Everyone agrees that the quality of information comes at a price, but few people are now willing to pay for information. That is why the democratic stakes linked to the existence of a strong and quality press, capable of allowing each citizen to access information and to inform his individual and collective choices must be constantly reaffirmed.
It is all the value of the work of your conference which will, I hope, be rich in sharing experiences and carrying out projects and proposals that I will look at with great attention.
Thank you.