Disinterest in current affairs is increasing, especially among the youngest

The disinterest of the French for the news is increasing, especially among the youngest who have turned to social networks. According to the annual barometer conducted by the Kantar Public Institute for “la Croix”, interest in the news has fallen five points to 62%, after fluctuating sharply between a low in 2020 and a sharp rise last year.

This decline confirms a trend that has been at work for several years: French news interest has plummeted after a peak of 76% reached in 2015 (amid a wave of attacks), which was close to its record (77 % in 1993). The disinterest among the youngest is striking: only 38% of 18 to 24-year-olds say they follow the news with interest.

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The generation gap is also large when it comes to using social networks for information. The majority (54%) of people under 35 consider it positive that news is disseminated by non-professionals on social networks, while 52% of the French, including 62% of those over 65, believe the opposite.

The key role of social networks

The web seems to be the second source of information for the French, for almost a third of them (32%), behind television, which maintains its status as the number one information medium (48%). This is followed by radio (13%) and the written press (6%).

Of those who inquire on the Internet, a quarter (26%) mainly turn to social networks, such as Twitter or Facebook/Meta, for information. These are ahead of traditional media sites and apps for the first time.

“That doesn’t mean they don’t read”said Jérôme Chapuis, editor-in-chief of “la Croix” during a press conference. “But the menu is presented to them by algorithms that work automatically and that we know today overexpose articles with a very strong emotional charge”the journalist complained, calling for: “arrange this environment”

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Media credibility, while low, remains fairly stable. However, radio, which lost three points compared to last year, and the written press (+1 point) are considered by 49% of the French as the media most truthfully reporting reality, ahead of television (44%, + 2 points) . The internet, on the other hand, fell by four points, with only 24% of French considering it credible news.

A critical look

As for last year, the French believe that the media talked too much about Covid-19 (79%) and Eric Zemmour’s presidential candidacy (73%). They would have liked to have talked more about the climate and COP 26 (41%) as well as the Sauvé report on sexual abuse in the church (39%) and the increase in energy prices (38%).

When asked about the role of the media in democracy, more than 90% of the French expect to be independent from political and economic powers. But few believe it: for 62% of the French polled, journalists are not independent of political power (62%), nor of economic circles (59%) and prefer the public over the quality of information (63%) . †

In the middle of an election year, the French “still divided over the way the media is covering the presidential campaign”notes Guillaume Caline of Kantar Public, a third of them (33%) think the subject is well covered, 35% are of the opposite opinion and a quarter remain neutral.

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Strong expectations

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Nevertheless, the public has high expectations of the media on which it relies to get the right information to make its choice (79%), to point out the false information spread by the candidates (83%) and to facilitate peaceful debates between the pretenders to launch the Elysée (78%).

To conduct this barometer, Kantar Public surveyed a sample of more than 1,000 people, representative of the adult French population, about their relationship with the media. Interviews held from January 5 to 11.

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