The media have an essential role to play in the ecological and social transition

Because the media are essential players in social transformations, they have a major role to play in the ecological transition. It is time to take responsibility.

The media is one of the pillars of a functioning democratic society. Their roles are multiple: whistleblowers, counter-power, information and training tool for citizens, relay of the scientific word or that of the social or political movements which agitate society… The media are at the heart of the debate public, which they contribute to building and directing as much as they disseminate it.

As such, the media world has a particularly crucial role to play in the ecological and social transition. The ecological and social transition is certainly the most complex issue that our societies will have to face in the decades to come, and it involves massive economic, social and cultural transformations. The media must play a role in these transformations: inform, analyse, decipher, open up debate, facilitate dialogue. Perhaps even more than others, the media today have a responsibility to live up to this challenge.

It is because we are convinced of this responsibility that we have been working for years, at Youmatter, to better highlight social and ecological issues. This is also why we have joined forces with the media collective which today is launching the Charter for journalism at the height of the ecological emergency. At a time when everyone is asked to “do their part”, the media must do theirs.

The media actors of the ecological transition

For too long, and even today, the ecological and social question has been very badly treated in a large number of media. First, many simply ignored this issue, thinking it was a problem of militants and activists, far removed from the concerns of journalistic objectivity. Then, because the ecological transition is complex, and it is really difficult to understand all the ins and outs, many journalists have approached the ecological question in a piecemeal, simplistic way.

Today, more and more journalists are doing a tremendous job of raising awareness, analyzing and putting ecological issues into perspective. We hope to be able to claim to be part of it, at Youmatter, and we continue to challenge ourselves every day to achieve this. But much progress remains to be made so that the media treatment of the ecological transition is up to the urgency. We journalists must train ourselves in the complexity of the ecological issue, in its cross-cutting nature. We must constantly learn or relearn to read the scientific data that accumulates, and to interpret them to make them accessible to all.

More than ever, the responsibility to inform and train

More than ever, we have the responsibility to make information related to these major crises that we are going through accessible. Making accessible means taking a step back, addressing everyone, putting things into perspective. It also means being able to sort through the multiple discourses that attempt to appropriate the ecological issue, whether these discourses are political or economic and commercial. Remind, constantly, the orders of magnitude, the urgency. Always refer to the words of those who are most legitimate in explaining these crises: scientists.

Our role is to contribute to training the entire population in these new, changing and sometimes controversial issues. For this, nuance and pedagogy must be at the heart of our work.

Open the dialogue on the transformations to be carried out

We, the media, also have a duty to open up dialogue. Being a media is not only transmitting information and ideas, but also listening. Hear the voices rising in society, their aspirations. We must keep in mind that the ecological question, in essence, is linked to the social question. The transition will therefore only take place if we listen to each other in order to build transformations acceptable to all.

Opening this dialogue also sometimes means deconstructing the discourse of those who try to neutralize it. This means that we must fight, as a counter-power, the arguments of those who block the ecological and social transition, economic interests, political interests. Those who continue to defend, at all costs, an outdated economic and social model, based on productivism and blind growth, which everything tells us is the cause of the crisis.

Participate in building the imagination of tomorrow’s society

Finally, we have the responsibility, as media, to be an actor in the new imaginaries that society must build to move towards ecological and social sustainability. We participate in disseminating symbols, highlighting dreams, creating trends. The personalities to whom we give the floor, the advertisements that we sometimes host, the images that we use must therefore be consistent with the urgency of the ecological transition.

We must assume to be militants, in the sense that we must defend a certain vision of society, fairer and more ecological. We can no longer hide behind the excuse of objectivity or neutrality, behind the excuse of the system, to avoid seeing our responsibility.

It is for all these reasons that we support the Charter for Journalism at the height of the ecological emergency. It is for all these reasons that we invite every journalist to read it and ask questions about this subject. It is for all these reasons that we will continue to defend committed journalism, which defends the ecological and social transition in a factual and nuanced way.

Find the full charter below.

The Charter for journalism at the height of the ecological emergency

The scientific consensus is clear: the climate crisis and the rapid decline of biodiversity are underway, and human activities are at the root of it. The impacts on ecosystems and human societies are widespread and, for some, irreversible. Planetary boundaries are exceeded one after another, and almost half of humanity already lives in a situation of high vulnerability.

In its sixth report, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) emphasizes the crucial role of the media in “framing and transmitting information on climate change”. It is up to all journalists to rise to the challenge posed by the runaway climate for current and future generations. Faced with the absolute urgency of the situation, we journalists must change our way of working to fully integrate this issue into the processing of information.

This is the purpose of this charter. We therefore invite the profession to:

  1. Dealing with climate, living organisms and social justice in a transversal way. These subjects are inseparable. Ecology should no longer be confined to a single heading; it must become a prism through which to consider all subjects.
  2. Do pedagogical work. Scientific data relating to ecological questions is often complex. It is necessary to explain orders of magnitude and time scales, to identify cause and effect links, and to provide elements of comparison.
  3. Questioning the lexicon and the images used. It is crucial to choose the right words in order to accurately describe the facts and convey the urgency. Avoid hackneyed images and facile expressions that distort and minimize the seriousness of the situation
  4. Broaden the treatment of issues. Do not only return people to their individual responsibility, because most of the upheavals are produced at a systemic level and call for political responses.
  5. Investigate the origins of the current upheavals. Questioning the growth model and its economic, financial and political actors, and their decisive role in the ecological crisis. Remember that short-term considerations can be contrary to the interests of humanity and nature.
  6. Ensure transparency. Distrust of the media and the spread of false information that relativizes the facts oblige us to carefully identify the information and experts quoted, to clearly show the sources and to reveal potential conflicts of interest.
  7. Reveal the strategies produced to sow doubt in the mind public. Certain economic and political interests work actively to construct statements that mislead the understanding of the subjects and delay the action necessary to confront the upheavals in progress.
  8. Inform on responses to the crisis. Rigorously investigate the ways of acting in the face of climate and living issues, whatever their scale of application. Question the solutions presented to us.
  9. Train continuously. To have a global vision of the upheavals in progress and what they imply for our societies, journalists must be able to train throughout their careers. This right is essential for the quality of information processing: everyone can demand that their employer be trained in ecological issues.
  10. Oppose funding from the most polluting activities. In order to ensure the consistency of the editorial treatment of climate and living issues, journalists have the right to express their disagreement without fear with regard to funding, advertising and media partnerships linked to activities they deem harmful. .
  11. Consolidate editorial independence. To guarantee information free from any pressure, it is important to ensure their editorial autonomy in relation to the owners of their media.
  12. Practice low-carbon journalism. Act to reduce the ecological footprint of journalistic activities, in particular by using less polluting tools, without cutting yourself off from necessary fieldwork. Encourage newsrooms to favor the use of local journalists.
  13. Cultivate cooperation. Participate in a supportive media ecosystem and jointly defend a journalistic practice concerned with preserving good living conditions on Earth.

Click here to download the charter in PDF format

In this complex world that looms before us…

…we are more determined than ever to decipher and analyze all the major phenomena that affect our societies. To put on the front of the stage fact-checked information, based on science, without a priori and without concession. To provide citizens with better keys to understanding and action in a world in transition.
To provide independent, quality information, available to the greatest number and without advertising for the new 4×4, we believe that information must be free.
But it can’t be done without you.

We need you to work with us to build quality information that is free for everyone, to disseminate it, to share it around you, but also to help us preserve our financial independence.
Each time you contribute, for example, 50 euros (17 euros after tax deduction), 2,000 citizens are better informed on future issues.

Thank you in advance, hoping to continue for a long time to build with you information worthy of our future,

Youmatter editorial team.

The media have an essential role to play in the ecological and social transition