The meeting of the mediator. What editorial treatment for 5G?

To talk about what a certain number of listeners and Internet users think about 5G, Emmanuelle Daviet, mediator for Radio France antennas, receives Anne-Laure Barral, journalist specializing in environment at franceinfo.

To evoke the position of part of the opinion vis-à-vis 5G – whose auction will take place on September 29, 2020 – we start with the message of a listener who wonders about the vocabulary used by the journalists. Here is the message: “The ‘anti-5G’… Another new community. Why are we not talking about people in favor of lowering energy tensions and reasonable consumption? No. They have to be called ‘anti-something’ “.Emmanuelle Daviet: Why this lexical choice with negative connotations?

Anne-Laure Barral: It’s always the difficulty in radio, when you have to find a term to be able to say it in titles that are a minute long, in briefs, and not in papers where you develop, or with guests, that you can have over several minutes to add nuance. “The anti-5G” is a way of giving and very broadly supervising those who may have an already determined position to say: “I don’t want it to develop now, I want to wait”, even if in principle, they are not against this position.

But people in favor of lowering energy tension or people who want to think about the environmental impacts, you can see that it takes longer. I would say the pro-5Gs could blame us for the same, saying: “I said that I would like to develop it because it would help my business, but that’s not what I’m for, it consumes a lot”. This is always the difficulty in radio, whatever the subject.

Emmanuelle Daviet: This same listener notices that: “The counter-arguments presented to legitimize the deployment of 5G do not take environmental constraints into account. The subject is treated from an economic point of view and not from an ecological point of view. I really have the feeling he said, that the business world still takes environmental issues down. ”

Another listener believes that, “Too often, the 5G debate revolves around health. But, he writes, it would be interesting to approach the debate from the angle of energy expenditure. ”

What angles have you chosen at France Info to tackle this subject?

Anne-Laure Barral: Indeed when we develop a subject, we choose an angle, we do not make each time a “What do I know” or a thesis, on the subject. Sometimes we will have an opponent who will say: “I’m afraid of 5G”, for personal reasons, perhaps in relation to his health. We are going to have someone who will defend this technology, because he sees an interest in it for the development of his business. So depending on who we have on the air, what some journalists develop in their papers, we make points on: these are the arguments for, these are the arguments against.

This week was very marked by political positions of the Head of State and of the government with reports on the orientation of the executive not to wait, to open to auction the frequencies on this technology, therefore, it is crystallized on those who want to move towards this principle of innovation and those who think of the precautionary principle.

But we had Frédéric Bordage who is the founder of GreenIT, a group of researchers working on the environmental impacts of digital technology. For my part, I made a billet science on the impacts on wave health, on what we know today in the various ANSES reports. We had a debate in the 12-14h with Dominique Rouillé, digital sociologist, who said: “We have to stop saying that people don’t understand anything about these technologies”, we had a political debate between Cédric O and Julien Bayou, a government secretary of state, and a political opponent of Europe Ecology the Greens, to say why there were these different points of view.

Emmanuelle Daviet: On an editorial level, how is the 5G dossier difficult to deal with?

Anne-Laure Barral: It’s like every time a technology is not mature. There, we go into political fiction, or into reality fiction. What will it look like in the future? 5G, we understood that it could have a stronger energy impact if uses develop, an environmental impact, if we change all our devices. We are there at the limit of what a journalist can do, by saying these are the facts, this is what we know, this is how it can develop.

And then we will continue to develop this subject by going to see, in the countries which have already started to develop this technology, and no later than next week. You understand that with the sentence of the Head of State pronounced one evening, the debate the next day opens on political positions, the report takes a little time, especially in times of Covid, and it will happen very quickly.

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