Cross-media stories and advertisers with Jacques Attali

🇬🇧 French Version

Jacques Attali

The We Are COM team discussed with Jacques Attali 🤗 Famous polytechnician, enarch and founder of 4 international institutions (Action against HungerEUREKA, the EBRD et Positive Planet), he is the author of over 1.000 editorials in L'Express magazine and over 80 books. Today, he is notably a columnist for the newspaper Les Echos.

On the occasion of the publication of his latest book “ Media stories: smoke signals to social media, and beyond », Jacques Attali shares with us his analyzes of the media of yesterday, today and tomorrow. An exceptional meeting of Club We Are COM to enlighten business communicators on the new challenges of advertisers in the face of the constant transformation of the media ecosystem. We rewind to jump ... into the future! 🚀

???? First of all, Jacques Attali, could you give us your definitions of information, communication and entertainment? 

Jacques Attali : The information constitutes a fact or an event which is to be transmitted. Whereas entertainment allows us to occupy our minds outside the reality of the world. It is for example literature, theater, cinema, music ... Finally, communication is the act of conveying a message, both informative and entertaining. It can take various forms, be confined to a private sphere, as well as address the masses. 

Despite everything, the genres mingle. Information can indeed take a form of entertainment. And this phenomenon is not new! It really depends on the will of the media or the powerful to acquire hearings ever wider. A prince might have the will to keep his subjects up to date with current affairs in the kingdom; or a merchant wishing to retain the attention of his potential customers. From the moment when information was no longer reserved only for the elites, the first advertisements and announcements were born. 

I would say the world is sort of under the grip of the means dictatorship, forced to respond to an increasingly important demand, more and more quickly and above all, more and more demanding. 

(I.e. How does the epic of the media - of broadcasting media - tell us about the future of the media? 

JA : The future cannot be glimpsed and understood only by looking at the laws of the past. The past teaches us that on the one hand, there is an increasingly strong demand for access to information in order to understand the world, to get by in it, to live there, to have fun there, to survive in it by confronting it. or forgetting it. On the other hand, technologies are more and more present and more and more global. 

In this book I state the following law: a new technique of communication invariably results from a new technique of producing personal messages. Indeed, the mail gives the press, the telephone gives the radio, photography gives the cinema as well as television, finally more recently the email has given the online media and the Social networks. Today reappears the importance of more personal and more confidential messages, which I call digital avvisi. Online media are indeed more and more personalized and individualized, profitable other than by the simple subscription. As a reminder, the avvisi, formerly called "gazetta", were the first merchant letters copied by hand and sold in the XNUMXth century. By understanding these phenomena of the past, we can glimpse the challenges of the present. 

It should also be noted that the media have not been able to take advantage of new technologies. Indeed, the print media, radio and television, database owners, attracting attention and having a good knowledge of the markets could have been at the initiative of social networks. However, it is new players who have seized hold of it.  

We must never believe that a current phenomenon constitutes a novelty

🤔 Yesterday's merchants were both media and media customers. Today, have brands become media or should they become in the perspective of a cookie-free Internet? 

JA : I would say that brands have always been media. You should never believe that a current phenomenon constitutes a novelty. Many brands have newspapers internal. Moreover, the world's best-selling newspaper is at the initiative of a grouping of American insurance and pensions. An association can also become a real media, when it carries a widely defended cause. From now on, many brands need to have their own media to convey information and set themselves up as a reference: sites, annual reports, sponsoring, to internal press groups, more or less visible. 

(I.e. « The media have always sought to know the tastes of their customers […] to make the best use of the data they obtain You write. Thanks to the GDPR, the consent of Internet citizens is necessary. Is it sufficient ? What will be the media bypass strategies to satisfy advertisers? Can they still be masters of the data?

JA : The GDPR does not constitute a defense strategy in itself since the Internet users click automatically. Today, traditional media are no longer masters of data: it is the property of social networks and Cloud managers. From my point of view, the great media battle seems lost, for the paperweight anyway. Thus, the issue is no longer so much the satisfaction of advertisers as that of readers or spectators. The stake for them is indeed to survive by their customers and not by advertising. Currently, only the radio enjoys a very particular model being a very inexpensive medium to produce, often public and in which advertising plays an important role, even if this source of income is in danger of drying up. 

🛠 Lincoln used the photo in his election campaign, Roosevelt on radio, Kennedy on television, Obama on social media, Trump on Facebook audience segments and Twitter's unfiltered broadcast. What different roles have Europe and the USA played over the ages? Are we still in this distribution of roles?

JA : Essentially, paper media have disappeared from the European and American ecosystem, leaving the prerogative to countries such as Japan, India and China. The great prosperity of the Western press is now a thing of the past, and this also applies to digital newspapers. We are actually far behind Asia. 

Yet it is in the West that it all started, the development of the media has been played out by country. The Netherlands was the first place of freedom of thought and speech. From the XNUMXth century, England took over, then it was the turn of the United States, whose independence was in part driven by freedom of the press. The invention of the media, in particular the press, arose out of this game between Great Britain and the United States, during the XIXrdcentury. Subsequently, the innovations of these two powers will eventually reduce the European countries to the rank of followers. Finally, Japan will wake up at the end of the XIXrdcentury, becoming the dominant nation of the written press, because it is very protected from digital media thanks to a very special management of subscriptions. 

Note that the most important roles were played by countries which defended the great freedoms what are those of thought, expression and of course freedom of the press. 

(I.e. 97% of Facebook's revenue comes from advertising (Facebook Ads). To what extent would advertisers be complicit or not in the propagation of fake news and conspiracy theories in financing this click economy? 

JA : I completely agree. First, I think we should not demonize social networks. They are indeed very useful, but today they are so useful that they constitute public services, while bringing in fortunes for a few private individuals. This is problematic. 

In my opinion, it is becoming essential to establish regulations so that social networks cease to be machines that swallow all innovations. Facebook, for example, has taken over Instagram and Whatsapp. 

It is true that by funding Facebook, advertisers are funding a private company that plays a public service role. The question that remains is therefore the following: will advertisers have the courage to join forces to impose a charter of deployment and control of the truth?

However, it is also up to the customers of these new networks to exert pressure. Pressure strong enough to allow for the establishment of solid regulations guaranteeing the maintenance of the truth and the fight against fake news

Our freedom of expression cannot depend on the goodwill of a few shareholders

🤐 Could advertisers be the future regulators, demanding real moderation of content by social networks? Two current events: the censorship of Trump by the media (Twitter, Facebook, etc.) therefore by the private sphere; the threat of the withdrawal of the status of information site from France Soir by the Ministry of Culture, and therefore by the public sphere. 

JA : We must not forget that advertisers are not in a position to be moral, but we can imagine that they are intelligent enough to understand that their long-term interest leads to a moderation of content. Indeed, it is unthinkable to replace an arbitrary decision of the president of a social network by a decision no less arbitrary which would result from a secret committee of advertisers. 

Regarding the decision of the Ministry of Culture targeting France Soir, it depends directly on the application of the law. As for this famous Trump censorship affair on Twitter's part in particular, that does pose a problem for me. I believe that it is not for a private person to make a decision to censor, no matter how fair. Our freedom of expression cannot depend on the goodwill of a few shareholders. Once again, regulation that is as international as possible should be put in place. And of course we are very far from it.

👀 What is your view on press relations, relations between journalists and advertisers, companies? 

JA : Journalists are more and more proletarian and more and more precarious. In the future, jobs in this occupation will certainly favor temporary contracts. The distinction between a professional in the press and a witness to a situation will become increasingly blurred. So, for journalists, isn't it natural to try new forms of collaboration? The important thing during a "household" is that the reader is informed. It is indeed essential to make paid actions public and this can and must be done in an atmosphere of general non-suspicion and mutual respect. ; as are published collaborations between healthcare professionals and the pharmaceutical sector.

📊 An influencer can earn a better living than an editor-in-chief of a major daily newspaper precisely thanks to his partnerships with brands. What will be the new economic models of the media tomorrow?

JA : I would say that a good economic model is a digital avvisi, paid either by its readership (via subscriptions), or by partnerships with brands and explicitly relying on advertising. A influencer is simply funded by brands, so he is reduced to the status of man-sandwich, that is to say, he becomes a prescriber crushed by advertisers.

Some newspapers manage to prosper thanks to their readership. Take the example of Chained Duck, this century-old weekly which has managed to remain independent and accessible, without giving in to the ease of publicity. Indeed, a good media is media read or watched for the quality of the information it delivers. Thus, it should derive its income directly from its readers and not from people who have an interest in others receiving this information for free. As for the direct remuneration of journalists, via bonuses, points or tips, I find that somewhat dangerous. This can create both a situation of dependence and a hierarchical difficulty.

The search for truth is the real issue of tomorrow.

😮‍💨 From horses and 5G to carrier pigeons and the telegraph, the race for time is a constant. We have achieved immediacy. What's the next step ? 

JA : One step remains permanent, and it is not the easiest: knowing where the real thing is and knowing how to judge the quality of an article. I dream of an application that would be able to certify articles instantly, in the form of fact-checking digital. I refer you to the French initiative Deep News, which seeks to grant values ​​of quality and veracity to an article. 

In my opinion, the search for the truth is the real issue of tomorrow. 5G does not actually bring anything new. Today, we have access to a wide range of digital solutions that simplify writing, such as proofreaders available in several languages, or even automatic writing to reproduce a particular style. Some articles are entirely written by automatons, the voices can be fictitious or reconstructed. More recently, we have seen the appearance of holograms reproducing body language. Soon 3D will come to us. Thanks to it, we will be able to enter reality and easily dive into a match, an attack, a TV set from our living room. Guy Debord did he not say: " the true is only a small spark of the false "? 

???? The Internet has been dreamed of as a “global village” with unlimited access to knowledge, knowledge, information, etc. Is it a utopia? Is transparency without pedagogy demagoguery?

JA : If each of us learns and manages to disentangle the true from the false, then it is not a utopia. Only the pedagogy matters! It is imperative to know how to differentiate the following three concepts: fact, belief and opinion. This is called the epistemology of science and the latter should be taught from an early age. 

Obviously all this is in the grip of a perpetual mutation, the true does not constitute a definitive value. The fantasy of a "global village" offering unlimited access to knowledge can only be realized if we can protect ourselves from the deluge of false news and lies. To avoid a deviation from the “global village”, it must be made the place of unlimited access to knowledge, and not that of unlimited access to having and to knowledge of oneself. More and more, social networks are becoming platforms narcissistic expression, but access to knowledge does not come through the frantic search for approval or accumulation. 

To give you a more concrete case, let's take the debate of bookstores during confinement. With us, await many books that we have not read yet. However, we continue to buy books. Why ? In reality, all of this is based on the universal and human fear of death. Not having read everything is unconsciously delaying the fatal hour. It brings us back to this idea of ​​entertainment, a way of running away from our own fear of death. Man does everything not to face it, understand it or prepare for it. This is why places of information tend to become places of entertainment, in the Pascalian sense of the term. 

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