Disinformation Risk Levels in France’s Media Market

Disinformation Risk Levels in France’s Media Market

  • November 18, 2020

New research from the Global Disinformation Index (GDI) shows that more than half of the French news sites in our market sample present a medium risk of disinforming their online readers.

These findings are based on analysis of 30 French-language media sites (See Figure 1), including some of the highest-traffic and most used sites in the country. 

Figure 1: Media sites assessed in France (in alphabetical order)

Only one site in this study received a minimum risk rating: LeMonde.fr (See Figure 2). The site has a minimum-risk rating due to its relatively neutral and unbiased articles, its numerous operational checks and balances, and its high levels of user trust in its content.

An additional five sites are rated as having a low risk of disinformation. Overall, sites in this group are seen to publish more neutral, unbiased articles. They also have certain operational policies and information in place which are associated with good journalistic standards.

 Figure 2: Risk Ratings for French Media Sites

The medium-risk category is over half the sample (18 sites). The risk factors driving this finding are largely related to the absence of key operational checks and balances, such as transparency about their sources of funding, editorial independence and corrections policies. These sites could significantly improve their risk rating by establishing such editorial and operational standards

Concerningly, seven sites in the French sample are classified as a high- or maximum-risk site. There are six high-risk sites and one maximum-risk site assessed in the French media sample. These risky sites are composed of news outlets which produce sensational content, including articles that negatively target groups.

These findings and more are highlighted in our media market report for France. This is the first disinformation risk assessment done for the country’s rich and diverse  media market. It is estimated that there are around 8,000 different publishers and more than 1,500 local media outlets in France. In 2019, French media publishers had a daily circulation of nine million copies, while online media outlets had 60 million unique visitors each day.

Figure 3: Average Pillar Score, by Risk Rating

The report applies the GDI methodology for assessing disinformation risk in three areas: the reliability of the site’s content, the site’s operational checks and balances, and how informed online readers perceive the overall context of the sites. 

The overall market risk score across the three pillars for France is 57 (see Figure 3). France is one of 10 countries which will be assessed in 2020 using this methodology.

The report’s findings serve as a roadmap to address the risk areas that were found. Suggested measures include:

  • Establish policies that promote a newsroom’s operational and editorial integrity, as outlined by the Journalism Trust Initiative.
  • Ensure transparency around a site’s ownership and sources of funding to prevent any suspicions of conflicts of interest.
  • Put in place clear corrections policies that online users can access and understand, and clearly publish any corrections that are made to a story.
  • Limit the use of clickbait titles that create perceptions of sensationalism and biased coverage of news, undermining online users’ trust in the information provided.
  • Assess the current labelling of news and opinion pieces across the French media landscape to develop a better understanding of how straight news is being presented.
  • Improve the coverage of more diverse and representative points of views and news by established media outlets. 

GDI looks forward to working with news sites and media bodies in France to advance these policies and other actions that will create a solid defense against disinformation risks.

Download the report in ENGLISH or FRENCH.

If you are interested in learning more about this study or GDI’s work, please contact us via info@disinformationindex.org.

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