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To be a journalist in the post-truth era: what role, what expectations?

Abstract : The objective of this communication is to question the role of journalists in the post-truth era, as it emerges from the recent fake news debate. We are thus interested in the way fake news is discussed, and we would like to shed light to the narratives that structure the debate. We focus our attention on a micro-corpus coming from the mainstream French press: from the election of Donald Trump to the presidency of the United States on November 8, 2016, until his inauguration on January 20, 2017. Even though fake news was part of the public agenda long before that time (e.g. Brexit), it abundantly occupied the media arena in the aftermath of the American presidential election. This work adopts the archaeological approach advocated by Marc Angenot. This author, through a situated analysis of specific discourses, seeks to identify the eventual topoi which characterize public doxa. Narration is at the center of Angenot’s concerns. The results show that the narratives elaborated in and by the French media regarding the dysfunctions of the contemporary information landscape indicate a utopian vision of the role of journalists and reproduce the linear information model. The impact of this doxa is threefold. First, it forwards a certain vision of journalism, based on fact-checking, naively considered to be the solution to the post-truth problem. Journalists are the main victims and at the same time the main perpetrators of this perception. Second, on an epistemological level, it brings back into the agenda the long-ago abandoned concept of “masses”. Finally, from a political standpoint, the rhetoric on media’s superpower is far from promoting the democratic enhancement of societies. By blaming the dysfunctions of social media for the flaws of the information environment, public actors tend to forget to take thorough interest in the reasons that lead people to fall prey to fake news. Of course, it would be wrong to forget that these results fall within the given spatiotemporal – and certainly limited – framework of the present study: the mainstream press French, during the first weeks of President Donald Trump’s election. Are there other underlying framings of the fake news phenomenon? Debates on public issues are struggles over meaning that depend on the public arena in which they are carried out. Analysis of social media could, for example, reveal how ordinary people understand and comment on the fake news phenomenon. Voices coming mainly from academia progressively shift the focus of the fake news debate. The latter insist on the complexity of the phenomenon, the role of people’s cognitive attitudes as well as the economic dimensions of it. However, the problem remains unsolved: by putting into broader perspective our relation to truth and reality, don’t we end up corroborating the constructivist postulate that fuelled fake news in the first place? The debate is more open than ever.
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https://hal.univ-lorraine.fr/hal-02405792
Contributor : Angeliki Monnier <>
Submitted on : Wednesday, December 11, 2019 - 7:51:07 PM
Last modification on : Monday, January 6, 2020 - 9:38:32 AM

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  • HAL Id : hal-02405792, version 1

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Angeliki Koukoutsaki-Monnier. To be a journalist in the post-truth era: what role, what expectations?. 5th World Journalism Education Congress, The World Journalism Education Council (WJEC), Jul 2019, Paris, France. ⟨hal-02405792⟩

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