Digital Media Literacy in EDMO Round Table: DE FACTO

Related project: EDMO II

This interview is part of the ”Digital Media Literacy in EDMO Round Table’‘ interview series that is published every month to highlight the work of the 14 EDMO hubs.

DE FACTO, Lucas Chevalier, Centre pour l’Éducation aux Médias et à l’Information (CLÉMI), France.

Who are the leading players in France when it comes to promoting media literacy?

CLEMI, part of Canopé Network (Réseau Canopé), is in charge of Media and Information Literacy in the French education system. Since 1983, CLEMI has been working as a go-between – bringing together institutional, associative and media actors around media and information literacy projects in and outside schools.

CLEMI trains an average of 50,000 people per year, including 30,000 teachers, mostly in the framework of continuing education and academic training plans. It designs, manages and implements the MIL (Media information literacy) training of all Ministry of Education primary and secondary school teachers through initial training, lifelong learning and distance learning. Besides training, resource production in media and information literacy is also at the core of CLEMI’s mission.

By bringing actors from education and the media to work together in order to face MIL challenges, we build on an understanding that players from public and private sectors intend to assume their social responsability in terms of citizenships through MIL. Recent years have also seen MIL emerge among the priorities of regulatory institutions, such as :

  • CNIL, Commission Nationale de l’Informatique et des Libertés, which works on the protection of individuals’ rights over their personal data;
  • ARCOM, Regulatory Authority for Audiovisual and Digital communication, which works together with educational and institutional partners such as CLEMI, to design educational kits for parents, pupils and their teachers ;
  • other players in the field of digital parenting.

Do you have any idea as to how media-literate people in this region are generally? Are there any types of measures that can be used to assess this over time?

The specificity of the French media landscape is based on great diversity with a powerful public audiovisual consortium, as well as independent associative media players and important private players. For 40 years, CLEMI has been working with this network to gradually integrate MIL into the curriculum of the French school system.

This implementation of MIL at school assumes equality for all young French people in mastering MIL skills understanding and knowledge. However, this approach does not ensure a common result, due to disparities in effective media presence between territories. Specific programmes such as « Les Cités éducatives » promoted by the National Agency for territorial cohesion are implemented to takle inequality of access to citizenship resources between pupils.

All CLEMI resources are available on CLEMI’s website to ensure a national circulation of our materials. Since 2018, CLEMI has been developing a range of resources and services designed to address the needs of a training and experimentation space conducive to the development of innovative uses. This space, in which education and media professionals work together, gives rise to original creative and educational support systems. This priority has been underlined since the COVID pandemic with the production of specific online resources.

In order to address MIL on the wider scale in France, CLEMI is producing the Press and Media Week at School. Since 1990, this Media literacy week in France, offers children the opportunity to discover media sector plurality and to exchange with media professionals every year. An average of 4,700,000 pupils in more than 20,000 schools are involved. 1,800 media partners are involved.

What are the main challenges you face in promoting media literacy in France?

Today, young people are the most exposed public to illegal and dangerous contents. Because pupils are accessing the digital world very early on and for long periods of time, media and information education actions are crucial to guarantee protection. New issues are emerging with the spread of hate speech and false information: as noted by a recent report from the EU Disinfo Lab, France has not been spared by the waves of disinformation that have affected Europe recently on the pandemic, the war in Ukraine or on climate change.

The pace of ICT (Information and Communications Technology) development is also very challenging as information practices evolve in the same time : if “the medium is the message”, then how best can we understand media production by Artificial Intelligence? MIL teaching at school is part of the solution in order to promote a responsible use of the Internet and social networks, together with the practice of critical thinking. In that respect, we have to implement MIL in teachers lifelong learning curricula.

What value do you think EDMO and the network of EDMO hubs in particular bring to the challenge of fighting disinformation and promoting media literacy in France?

According to the latest digital report from the Reuters Institute, French citizens’ trust in the media ecosystem is amongst the lowest in the world (30%). At the same time, the latest CEVIPOF annual barometer showed a worryingly low level of trust of the French population towards experts (climate, science, etc…) as well as some institutions. This state of play highlights the necessity of EDMO and its French  DE FACTO hub, aiming at fostering further urgently coordinated and independent actions.

DE FACTO gathers Sciences Po Médilab (coordinator), AFP, XWIKI SAS and CLEMI in an unprecedented cooperation to tackle informational disorders in France through fact-checking, research, media literacy and communication. This project provides tools, analyses and discussions for all those who wish to learn how to be better informed. The platform is a key reference to empower the French public, especially vulnerable populations, with the necessary tools to better identify news manipulations. The members of DE FACTO have premium partners for producing fact checks and working on MIL : France Télévisions / France info, 20 Minutes, EBRA news titles (L’Est Républicain, Le Républicain Lorrain, Le Bien Public, Vosges matin, Le journal de Saône-et-Loire, Le Progrès, DNA, L’Alsace, Le Dauphiné Libéré) and plateform.

What types of media literacy activities have been organised by DE FACTO since it was set up?

CLEMI has proposed a programme for training educators and teachers against disinformation : 17 trainers trained, including 10 CLEMI academic coordinators, over 3 days led by national CLEMI trainers, with interventions from fact-checking journalists, scientific experts and media visits (Les Surligneurs, France 24, France Info, AFP); a European eTwinning conference for teachers from all over Europe was organised with France Médias Monde (France 24).

In addition to sharing numerous educational resources on the DE FACTO platform, CLEMI produced the “Médialogues en famille”, a podcast series. Produced by Hélène De Lacoste and Justine Leblond, journalism students at the time, with the help of the CLEMI teams, this series is accessible online on the DE FACTO platform. Season 2 of “Médialogues en famille” on the information practices of young Quebecers was produced in partnership with the Quebec Center for Media and Information Education (CQEMI), accessible online.

From June 27 to September 30, 2022, CLEMI carried out a national citizen consultation on the theme “How can everyone be better informed?” produced via in partnership with France Info, France Bleu, 20 Minutes and the 9 press titles of the EBRA group. Unprecedented in its scale, this national consultation mobilized 113,227 contributors, generating 2023 proposals and 526,858 citizen votes. A booklet, including an interview with Vera Jourova, Vice-President of the European Commission, as well as a summary video presented the results of this citizen consultation. These materials were presented on November 22, 2022 during the 5th edition of Médias en Seine Festival during a DE FACTO event around speakers from the consortium and high-level experts from the worlds of research, media and information education. The first 15 citizen proposals resulting from this consultation were brought to the national and European authorities.

Numerous actions of dissemination have been organised in professional events dedicated to journalists or teachers, for example at Médias en Seine festival, Infox sur Seine festival, Éducatec-Educatice forum or during the Press and Media Week at School. Others events have been organized with Canopé Network (Réseau Canopé) and the Mission Laïque Française.

What plans do you have in relation to media literacy for the next 12 months for DE FACTO?

We are about to end this great European programme by February 2024.

Before that, a qualitative survey will be delivered to question a MIL resource: Dans la tête de Juliette, produced by CLEMI which promotes awareness of teenagers information practices. The study will rely on the data related to 245 personnal investigations from different regions of France. Conducted by Anne Cordier, Professor/researcher at the University of Lorraine, this study and its kit are intended to be disseminated to the three communities brought together by DE FACTO : journalists, educators and researchers.

Lucas Chevalier, International Projects Coordinator, CLÉMI, France.