What a difference five days makes. A week ago Sunday, Albertine, the bookstore affiliated with the cultural services arm of the French Embassy in New York (pictured), hosted an enlightening evening conversation on the future of journalism, moderated by Adam Gopnik, a New Yorker staff writer and author, that featured David Remnick, editor of The New Yorker, and Nabil Wakim, director of editorial innovation at Le Monde.
The discussion centered on real-time news gathering, the distinct roles of print vs. web content, and the state of investigative reporting. Wakim made a number of interesting points about how Le Monde, a prominent daily newspaper, handles national news and crises. He has extensive experience in these areas since he served as digital editor in chief and online managing editor of Le Monde and politics editor during the 2012 French presidential campaign. He also teaches digital journalism at Paris’ Sciences Po, a university known for political studies.
In the wake of Friday’s Paris attacks, we revisited his comments. Below are selected excerpts.
On real time news coverage:
“Now on the web we explain the news as it is happening. Last January with the tragic Charlie Hebdo attacks, Le Monde provided live coverage. Readers could ask questions regarding what events were true.”
“This led us to more transparency in the reporting process in terms of what we know or don’t know at any given point in time. Now it’s the same with the plane crash in the Sinai, for example. We need to give readers definitive information, but in pieces.”
Note: This past Saturday morning, after the string of terrorist attacks that had occurred hours earlier, Le Monde’s website offered comprehensive coverage of the crisis, as well as numerous articles to answer viewers’ queries.
“Digital’s rise has forced us to change and reinvent what journalism is. Le Monde’s website and newspaper have different identities and we need to find balance. The common theme is that we provide the same values on world and international affairs.”
“Initially Le Monde was a daily newspaper written for Parisian elites analyzing politics, but the coverage has expanded to include a wide range of other topics and a broader audience. With more web and digital data now we have up to the minute information about what people are reading, which is valuable.”
On investigative journalism and French politics:
“Investigative reporting in France is different than in the U.S. since much of it is focused on the courts. But now with all the information and data we have access to, we can explore more topics, like tax evasion.”
“The relationship to power has changed for French business journalists, especially now with the higher turnover of politicians in office. The result is that journalists are less afraid of politicians.”
On journalism’s future:
Nakim’s remarks predicting the media industry’s future were more philosophical, but also prescient give the Paris attacks that occurred just five days later:
“Nothing will be the same but we’ll survive anyway.”
(Image 2: Courtesy of Le Monde website)