“When the media machine turns on, no one wants to be left out of the big emotional ceremony of the moment”

TF1, France 2 and the continuous news channels are in a special edition, Monday, September 19, sometimes from 5 am, to follow the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II: a unique device to cover the last episode in a titanic media sequence. This meeting was followed by millions of viewers, according to data from Médiamétrie transmitted by Pure media: 3.36 million on TF1 between 1 pm and 1:52 pm, 3.20 million on France 2 between 1:15 pm h 15, 940,000 on BFM-TV between 11:58 am and 1:14 pm – the different times correspond to the cutting of sequences chosen by each channel.

Since the announcement of the death of the sovereign on September 8, many French media have reversed their editorial offer: dozens of journalists sent to the United Kingdom, more air time, a daily parade of experts from the royal family, repeated special editions. … At the risk of overdoing it?

David Medioni is the director of the Media Observatory of the Jean Jaurès Foundation and a journalist. At the beginning of September, he co-wrote and published, in collaboration with Arte and the Observatory of Society & Consumption, a report entitled “The French and information fatigue. Changes and tensions in our relationship with information”. He returned of media coverage of Elizabeth II’s death in a context of information overload.

Also read: Article reserved for our subscribers The strange, anachronistic and very beautiful farewell to Elizabeth II

Even before the announcement of the death of the queen, on September 8, in the early evening, many continuous news channels were already in the special edition. Within ten days, BFM-TV moved part of its editorial staff to London and sent a dozen teams there. What did the intensity of the treatment of Elizabeth II’s death reveal?

A distinction must be made between continuous news channels, radio stations, social networks and the written press – although the latter is not free from ridicule, The Parisian who made five “ones” in ten days on the subject. Overall, the breadth of coverage of this event reflects an emphasis on emotion over information. There is a form of disproportion and a media frenzy in a short-term audience logic. On Sunday September 11, three days after the death of the Queen of England, a major counter-offensive took place in Ukraine, and the evening news did not mention it until 8:25 pm.

In this case as in others, the same vicious circle is set up: social networks are racing [la mort de la souveraine britannique a battu un record historique sur Twitter, le soir de sa mort, avec un pic de 1 834 tweets publiés par seconde] and the media gets involved, then the politicians react. In this case, the Prime Minister, Elizabeth Borne, went on to state: “The French are also mourning. » When the media machine kicks in, no one wants to be left out of the big emotional ceremony season.

Given the streaming audience of the news channel after the death of Elizabeth II, one would think that there is a real need for these forms of news processing…

I don’t believe that. We get the impression that if the audience is there, then it means that the public is following us. In the study carried out by the Jean Jaurès Foundation, Arte and the Society & Consumption Observatory, and published at the beginning of September, we were able to analyze the immediate effects of the information overload in the French: 85% of them -as ‘they often have the feeling that they see the same news all day; 59% believe that this information overload will prevent them from withdrawing; 53% often feel that they haven’t read or heard anything useful or interesting all day; 51% find it difficult to distinguish what is really important or not; 49% have difficulty forming an opinion…

Also read: Elizabeth II’s funeral: the queen’s farewell ceremony in photos

Even before continuous news channels, social networks once again provided an important sounding board for the movement. Is it a way to find more personal information?

What the study we conducted taught us that even the most comfortable in social networks are not always able to navigate the flow of information that circulates there. We identify a population that we call “tired hyperconnected” (17% of the sample), mostly young urban graduates with high media consumption and mastering the codes of social networks, which one would think would know how to navigate in this universe of information. In fact, the hyperconnected also report stress and anxiety, which are linked to this overexposure.

Can we measure the long-term effects of this information overload?

This can lead to forms of media burnout and withdrawal. According to our study, 53% of French people say that they always deactivate their mobile phone notifications, 30% sometimes force themselves not to turn on the television and 27% say that they control the time they spend behind the screen. There is a real desire to withdraw from the media space: 77% of French people questioned say that they sometimes limit their access to information, or even stop consulting it, including 28% always.

These emotion-based audience logics gradually break the link between the public and the media. Too much information destroys the trust and connection that viewers, listeners or readers can have.

Also read: Article reserved for our subscribers Funeral of Elizabeth II: televised meeting of the last moments of a queen born on the small screen

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