The rise of a new journalistic platform in France
For a few months now, the streaming platform Twitch has brought a breath of fresh air to the French media landscape. By valuing more than ever the interactivity between the journalist - who is no longer necessarily a journalist - and the public, the platform is considered by some as the dawn of a participative renewal of journalism, which also attracts the young. In the context of disinterest in traditional media, the use of this platform highlights new journalistic practices in France that respond to the need to be informed differently.
Participatory journalism
Participatory journalism emerged from the Internet. At the beginning of the 2000s, blogs and social media developed few interfaces to invite people to react directly to the shared content. These are well known : the like and the comments section. Those interactions helped creators of content to adapt their post according to the feedback from the audience, news ideas, or even to explain a vague topic not well understood by a user. Journalists (as well as content creators) decided to use it for the same purpose. They use digital devices, such as a chat and comments section, to interact directly with the public or to answer their questions. This makes the content more personalised as the journalist responds directly to the audience. These new forms of participatory journalism are valued. Indeed, audiences aren't passive like in front of the TV or reading an article in a newspaper, but very active, taking part directly and being involved in news and information.
French journalism based on opinions through facts
Unlike the English press based on facts, the French press relies very much on opinions through facts, due to an old literary and essay heritage. In France, the media always played a significant role in popular opinions regarding politics. Journalists are often seen as watchdogs of democracy. No matter what their political views are, it is even considered healthy for the media to criticise the government. According to the national ethics code for journalists, a journalist must defend the freedom of expression, opinion, information, comment and criticism.
Young people's lack of trust in the media can be explained by the changing information patterns. As Arnaud Mercier, a teacher in the French Press Institute, puts it in an interview for the newspaper La Croix : "The world of information seems to them to be made for adults. Through their expertise of social networks, they have entered another universe, with a logic of acquisition and sharing of knowledge."
a quick insiGHT
How does Twitch work ?
Streaming platforms are technical devices that allow to broadcast and share live content.
In streaming, the communication is done in a classical way with a microphone and a camera, but there are cases where the streamer uses only a microphone to communicate with his audience. A chat is also available on the streamer's page, which allows him to communicate with his viewers.

For a long time considered as simple entertainment platforms, streaming platforms are now considered as real media. The diversification of the content on the streaming platforms has taken an educational and informational dimension. Codes are taken from conventional media with additions from Internet culture.
In addition to the traditional gaming content, it is possible to watch press reviews, to follow speeches commented by the National Assembly, to attend political interviews or to discuss current events with professional or citizen journalists.

The particularity of the streaming platform allows to make the role of the viewers more dynamic. There are no longer observers but can also become actors and producers of the content by sharing their ideas, opinions and their knowledge on subjects through the chat in a direct and instantaneous way.
Streaming services in facts and figures
Ostpolitik : Radio with a stream
Ostpolitiks decided to use Twitch to do something he is most comfortable with: radio !
In the lives of Ostpolitik there is no video but simply a fixed screen where the day's programme is shown along with the time and the chat which scrolls in real time.
The benefits of using Twitch as a journalist
Live offers a great opportunity for interaction with the audience.
Streaming can first of all be considered as a form of media. It allows live content delivery and combines elements present in traditional media such as entertainment and learning.

The main difference from traditional media is the much greater emphasis on interactivity: a closeness is created between the viewer and the streamer through polls, quizzes and jokes.

For smaller meetings such as Klitch_Norris (which has about 50 viewers each morning), the viewer can be greeted with a personalised 'hello' from the streamer when they log in.

Even on a larger scale, Samuel Etienne, a news icon on Twitch with 10,000 daily viewers, takes the liberty of asking unrelated questions (e.g. "Where are you from?") and reading some of the answers to connect with viewers.

Ostpolitik, a streamer and journalist for MediaPart, goes further by offering his viewers to send him columns that he will broadcast during his morning show; part of the information is then co-constructed by those who consume it.

For viewers this interactivity is precious, and at the heart of their attachment to the platform and helps streamers to build audience loyalty.

Finally, the broadcasting format, and in particular reading the chat, also leaves room for spontaneity, for personal interactions, which are not "designed to create a hype", as Ostpolitik puts it.
Samuel Etienne, a famous French journalist both on mainstream media and on Twitch
Well known for his TV shows, this famous journalist is also popular for his morning streams on Twitch
Mainstream media on Twitch
An opportunity to win back the public's trust and interest?
Previews of the content offered on the Twitch channel of Arte
The integration of a public service journalist to Twitch in October 2020 caused a real media shock wave in France. Struck by a growing mistrust and disinterest in recent years, the mainstream media saw in the figure of Samuel Etienne the possibility of finally regaining the trust of young people known to be particularly hostile to them. In the meantime, major public (France Télévisions, Arte) and private (BFM TV) media have decided to open their channels on Twitch in the hope of experiencing a renaissance. They imagined that offering their content on a video platform would be enough to regain the interest and trust of the public.
Twitch is not a magic cure for the mainstream media crisis

Although some media have been successful on Twitch, the concept has not caused any major upheaval in the French media landscape. In fact, the success of mainstream media on Twitch depends on the credibility they already enjoyed and their ability to adapt their activities correctly to the needs of the platform.

The cultural medium Arte regularly produces live programmes. The media has chosen to offer only content related to video games. The hosts of the shows are streamers mastering the tools and features of Twitch and are accompanied by specialised journalists who discuss these subjects and bring critical analysis. Arte's transition to the platform was successful because the editorial choices were adapted to the expectations and interests of the Twitch audience. The respect of the codes allowed the media to gain the trust of the viewers with the idea that the media did not pretend to make "old with new".

The same cannot be said for other more controversial media such as BFM TV. What has been particularly criticized is the pretentiousness with which the media thought that they simply had to change their platform in order to succeed in reviving their image, without bothering to look at the interests of the public on Twitch.

Unlike Arte, whose effort was praised, BFM TV arrived on Twitch with the controversial topic of vaccination in the context of the pandemic. A journalist who had no mastery of the tools of streaming found herself alone in front of the chat that took advantage of her unpreparedness to put her in an awkward position. The journalist's speech and the subject chosen by the media showed that the media had simply acted as an opportunist, which deeply annoyed the viewers and undermined the channel's credibility.
Adapting to the needs of the community to engage in a dialogue
Margaux de Frouville, journalist at BFM TV answers viewers' questions on the subject of the pandemic
The failure of BFM TV on Twitch showed that television could not get to the platform without preparation. During a live broadcast by France Télévisions, journalist Samuel Etienne stated that television should not aim to migrate to the platform because it would not work. The success of mainstream media on Twitch lies in the ability to intervene regularly and to talk about subjects that are important to the community.

In this way, France Télévisions chose to intervene on the platform with subjects that concern young people (the majority on the platform) and to have young streamers intervene to discuss subjects such as student precariousness, which aroused real enthusiasm among viewers who felt concerned and listened to. The aim is not to replace but to adapt and therefore to adapt the practice, whether it be in the technique, the discourse, the story or the presentation.
behind the scenes
The limitations of Twitch journalism
A mainstream figure can hardly embody the desired renewal
Despite the media enthusiasm surrounding Samuel Etienne's activity, his behavior in the public space was subject to criticism.

While professional and citizen journalists had succeeded in attracting a new audience in the media world, editorial choices and apparent neutrality have earned him criticism from some journalists and MPs. In the case of Samuel Etienne, they criticise his lack of distance from the mainstream press and his lack of pedagogy.

They remain wary of the speeches that make each new medium an upheaval for the media and their social role: "There is a greater proximity between the streamer and his public, that's for sure, but are we going to reinvent the political interview, create a new democracy? I don't think so", explains Ostpolitik. He gives as an example the Twitch interview of Jean Castex by Samuel Etienne, which had all the makings of a classic political interview: the Prime Minister did not answer the questions in the chat, and did not allow himself to be as relaxed as the format might suggest. "You can't reinvent the wheel every time you do a new format on Twitch," the columnist added. Daniel Schneiderman, editor-in-chief of Arrêt sur image (a French pure player specialising in media criticism), analysed for MediaPart's : "The platform is more original in its audience, which is far removed from politics, than in its technology."

Politics, a subject that enrages the Twitch community
French video game streamer Ponce invited to Twitch live show dedicated to the situation of young people
The hype surrounding the France Télévisions journalist finally reached its limits when he decided to deal with political subjects. By choosing to invite politicians to his home for an interview, the journalist got himself into trouble. By showing his willingness to invite personalities from different political backgrounds but refusing to allow a figure from the extreme right (Marine Le Pen) to come to his home, Samuel Etienne betrayed the neutrality he claimed to defend.

While his press reviews were enthusiastic, his political interviews were a failure, which he himself acknowledged.

The invitation of the Prime Minister particularly annoyed the community, which denounced it as a simple political manoeuvre on the part of the government. Jean Castex did not even make the effort to play the game of interactivity and adopt a tone and discourse that corresponded to that of the platform, more intimate and transparent.

This failure showed the limits of journalistic processes and topics on Twitch especially politics, which remains a delicate subject to tackle. Despite his good will, Samuel Etienne fell into the trap of overestimating his abilities. He ended up disappointing those who had seen in him the possibility of effectively connecting young people to subjects of public interest.
HugoDécrypte comments live on President Emmanuel Macron's speech
go further
Toward a professionalization of Twitch
Moreover, more than interactivity, streamers are attached to the possibility Twitch offers to do a freer, more personal and more committed journalism. For these streamer-journalists, their activity lies between citizen journalism and experimental journalism.

The shift from the traditional framework allows me to do journalism as an amateur and a family man, and gives me greater freedom in the treatment of information."
- Klitch_Norris

Defending the idea that the platform can offer content open to all, different streamers have become famous by proposing content with the aim of popularising subjects and bringing a more adapted view to the expectations of the public.

Here are some of the most popular streamers :
Sociological analysis may show that video game streaming, which began as a hobby for a few individuals, quickly became a profession in its own right with its experts and amateurs. It will be very interesting to follow the evolution of video game streaming in the future, as it is a constantly changing environment, partly due to its recent creation. Not long ago the French government passed a law giving full-time streamers professional status. Even if it mainly concerns E-Sports players, we can imagine that the development of journalistic practices on Twitch could extend this status to streamers who do not propose content only related to gaming.
Artoise Bastelica-Grieco
Journalism student
22-years-old French student, graduated in Philosophy at Sorbonne University, currently studying at the University Lumière Lyon 2 for a Master degree in Journalism, specialized in meta-media and digital cultures.
Laurie Musset
Journalism student
23-year-old French student, graduated in Graphic Design, currently studying at the University Lumière Lyon 2 for a Master degree in Journalism, specialized in International and French-speaking areas.
University of Lomonosov - Moscow
Tutor : Diana Kulchitskaya
April 2021
Russian media and journalism international school
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