The finding is clear: 60% of French people, according to a Viavoice poll published on Saturday, September 26, believe that the media have given too much space in their coverage to the Covid-19 pandemic.

One in two French people find that the information given was anxiety-provoking, 43% believe that journalists have fueled the fear of the pandemic, and 32% of French people even feel that the media have used this fear to gain an audience.

"The media treatment of the pandemic is judged severely by the public, underlines Stewart Chau, consultant at ViaVoice, contacted by France 24. The fact that we talk about it all the time and everywhere has amplified their perception of information. anxiety-provoking, even catastrophic for 28% of those surveyed. "

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Thus, only 25% of French people believe that the coverage of the pandemic by the media was balanced, and they are only 13% to find that the information given allowed them to control and fight their fear of the new coronavirus.

The study commissioned by France 24, RFI, MCD, France Télévisions, Radio France and the Journal du Dimanche shows that the French are waiting for practical information and certainty.

To the question, "to provide you with useful information on the Covid and its consequences in the coming months, what do you primarily expect from journalists and the media?", 51% of respondents say they want constructive information that offers solutions to protect themselves from the disease, 47% want the expertise of researchers specializing in health issues and 45% of the elements of verification on the information circulating on the pandemic.

"The French discovered that the experts could contradict each other"

“Experts were omnipresent on TV sets, but the French discovered that they were contradicting themselves and that they could be wrong, notes Stewart Chau. However, their expectations are clear: they require an expertise that reveals more truth than contradictions . They expect the media to speak authoritatively and to provide practical information that will enable them to protect themselves against disease. "

Problem: the Covid-19 pandemic is unprecedented and the scientific community as a whole has had to learn lessons from its day-to-day evolution.

The look at children is thus revealing.

While they were considered, at the beginning of March, as certain vectors of the virus and that the closure of schools was advocated, even before the general containment of the population, they are now seen as a population representing little or no danger. in disease transmission.

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"We were in a context of total uncertainty and the French had great difficulty in internalizing the fact that information could be evolving and changing. Information is so accessible that citizens assume that we know the However, knowledge can evolve and be debated, ”recalls the ViaVoice consultant.

In a world where rulers, scientists and journalists find it difficult to say that they do not know, talking about a subject that is little known also forces you to formulate hypotheses that are sometimes wrongly perceived as certainties.

The evolution of government discourse on masks or the controversies surrounding Professor Didier Raoult's positions have probably not helped much either.

"A growing climate of mistrust"

Another lesson: the need for reliable information appears clearly in the assessment of the work of verifying information carried out by journalists.

The French are 33% to find fact-checking on information circulating on Covid-19 "necessary", and 16% of them "useful".

They are especially 29% to consider that the verification of the facts was not "important enough".

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Finally, the ViaVoice study shows that the health crisis and its media treatment will have consequences in the relationship of the French to the media.

Only 8% of those questioned consider that the information on the pandemic has been treated "rigorously" and they are only 6% to consider that this information was "verified".

"After the time of surprise, came that of questioning knowledge institutions, notes Stewart Chau. We live in a climate of growing mistrust vis-à-vis the government and journalists."

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