For the past few years, our news has become similar to junk food - too much, too rich, too fast and mostly not good for you.
How did we get to this point? To find out, Anne-Sophie Novel, an independent journalist and documentarist, travelled to four countries and talked to media professionals who made tackling 'infobesity' and lack of trust in the media their mission.
"I look at what audiences feel, what coverage of social issues means to our readers and what that represents for our profession," she said.
In her film The Media, The World and Me, Novel explores new ways of 'making the news', after realising that the media are spending too much time and resources on petty stories while ignoring crucial issues.
Climate change and sustainability, for instance, have not been taken seriously or have been downright ignored in the past few decades. Journalists who did report on these issues were often labelled 'militant' and inviting climate deniers for a "balanced" point of view has been commonplace until recently.
"The change is coming though," said Novel, adding that UK organisations such as BBC or the Guardian are leading the shift with, for instance, intentional change in vocabulary.
"This kind of media work doesn't exist in France. The change is coming much slower."
Novel explained that French journalists are increasingly victims of violence as the press is often most visible, and thus attacked, during numerous protests.
However, this also shows that French journalists are quite disconnected from their audiences and while many media conferences talk about tackling plummeting revenue or challenges of the digital age, they rarely discuss what audiences truly care about: quality content.
"Audiences are tired of receiving information that they don’t want," said Novel.
To help French journalists start asking the right questions, she launched a new series Media: the great reinvention?, that discusses best practices in anything from fact-checking to data and solutions journalism.
"I want to launch a movement around 'better information'," said Novel. "It’s not about slow news but better quality news. It’s important to build a healthy relationship with good content."
This echoes initiatives such as the book by Jodie Jackson 'You are what you read' that advocates a healthier news diet. Novel agreed that more needs to be done to ensure readers are better informed.
The audience also needs to understand they can support good journalism - either via memberships and subscriptions but also by being part of the conversation and contribute to quality content. Increased engagement is also the first step towards building a stronger relationship between readers and newsrooms.
"The lack of trust has always been around - there was no golden age when media was trusted. But now, with the multiplication of sources, there is a growth in mistrust and people feel drowned in information. We have to stop putting up with it."
Learn how quality journalism can thrive in the age of misinformation at Newsrewired on 27 November at Reuters, London. Head to newsrewired.com for the full agenda and tickets
Free daily newsletter
- Digital News Report 2020: covid-19 accelerates digital shifts in the media industry
- “Hey Google, tell me something good”
- "Solutions journalism has never been more needed. So we made a game about it"
- How coronavirus is putting solutions journalism in the spotlight
- Covering covid-19 with a solutions lens: six insights from The Guardian