Renée Knepper Nick Steece SIS 419/628 French Media: Final Report Main Findings
Part 1: Syrian Protests Overview: This issue analysis report looked at French coverage of the Syrian protests from June 11 through 19. Samples from both old and new media are used in the discussion of overall French coverage. Due to time constraints, content from only the following French media outlets were analyzed: TF1, Le Monde, and Agence France-Presse (AFP). It is therefore important to note that this is not a comprehensive report of French coverage of Syria. And as these events began mid-March, coverage over time may vary. This report will also look at French public opinion and discuss the role of French media.
Part 1: Syrian Protests Sources: Foreign media do not currently have access into Syria. Therefore, the majority of video comes from the internet (posted by eyewitnesses), Syrian state TV, or footage from the Turkish refugee camps. Similarly, written reports must rely on government sources and eyewitnesses. This can create problems for determining validity.
Part 1: Syrian Protests Objectivity/bias: The media samples appear to be relatively objective, though they illustrate a French perspective. Stories considered relevant to the French public are included, such as the demonstration in Paris. Using eyewitness accounts may affect perceived objectivity, however. But generally it seems that these news stories make a clear effort to identify the source and make the audience aware.
Part 1: Syrian Protests Framing: DeVreese (2003) discussed how framing can influence public perception of an issue. He found that “the news frame was as important in the news facts presented in the core part” when participants were asked to retell the news story (p. 134). The French media examples in this report have generally framed the conflict as having two sides: demonstrators vs. the Syrian government. Very little attention is given to members of the public who support the government. At the same time, French media (and Western media in general) provides a counter-narrative to what is being broadcast and printed by Syrian state-controlled media.
Part 1: Syrian Protests Old vs. new media: While new media is more interactive, allowing the audience to take part in discussions, old media outlets appear to struggle with incorporating this into their websites. Many articles and videos have few comments, even if they have over a thousand views. Domestic issues seem to generate more lively discussions. It is possible that the French do not use new media or social media in the same way as Americans. In terms of framing a news story, however, there were mostly similarities, as old media outlets tend to reproduce content on their websites or YouTube channels. But with regards to public opinion, comments may influence framing of events or create skepticism.
Part 1: Syrian Protests Impact of French media coverage on public opinion: It seems as though the French media’s presentation of violent government crackdowns against protesters has had an effect on public opinion. The public condemns this violence, though they appear divided on what action the French or international community should take. The media images and eyewitness accounts give an emotional, human element to the unfolding events. Some are skeptical of these unverified accounts but are more willing to trust them than what is reported by the Syrian media. A more thorough analysis of French media coverage is necessary to determine a more definitive correlation.
Part 2: Same-Sex Marriage in France In January 2011, the constitutionality of the illegality of same-sex marriage was finally approved by the Constitutional Court of France stating that the issue was something for Parliament to decide On June 14, 2011, Parliament voted 293-222 against legalizing same sex marriage with the majority of those opposing being part of the conservative party or the UMP (French Parliament…).
Part 2: Same-Sex Marriage in France The rejection of the same-sex marriage bill created a buzz of media coverage from a variety of sources Both old and new media are analyzed in order to gain a better understanding of how the media affects public opinion
Part 2: Same-Sex Marriage in France Old Media Le Figaro “Gay Marriage: An Anthropological Aberration” Slanted right Le Monde “Gay Marriage: What Types of Families do the French Want?” Slanted left France 24 “Same-Sex Marriage Reveals Cracks in Sarkozy Party” Slanted slightly left
Part 2: Same-Sex Marriage in France New Media France 24 “French Parliament Rejects Same-Sex Marriage Bill” Balanced, could be slightly slanted to the left TF1 “Gay Marriage: In any case this will be” Says Bachelot” Slanted to the left
Part 2: Same-Sex Marriage in France Historical Perspective French have very strong traditional family values Gay Marriage is mostly opposed because of the thought of same-sex parents raising children Public Opinion 58% of French people favor legalizing gay marriage 51% favor adoption Opinions evolving faster than elected officials The Role of Media The media has clearly affected public opinion as numbers continue to rise Political frames force people to look at issues and debates for realistically
Part 2: Same-Sex Marriage in France Overall Observations In terms of the same-sex marriage debate, the media has played a huge role in swaying the majority viewpoint that continues to rise in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage. This was done by presenting facts that dispelled common arguments against it and comparing France to other EU nations who have already adopted similar bills. Furthermore, the media has now shifted to usually reflect the now rising majority viewpoints.
Conclusion While these two issues are quite diverse, there are similarities in the way French media covers the news: Not always objective and unbiased Always presented from a French perspective Sometimes mirrors majority viewpoints Framing of these issues influences public opinion Old media outlets appear to struggle to implement new media techniques – evidenced by the lack of comments and connection to social media New media affects public opinion much quicker than old media