Current affairs

Since 2009, the Seine-Saint-Denis County Council has been backing “la Culture et l’Art au Collège (CAC)”. This project is based to a large extent on the presence in class for several weeks (40h) of an artist or scientist whose mission is to engage the students in a process of research and creation. 


Yaelle Amsellem Mainguy, Camila Areas, Julien Bourdais, Armèle Cloteau, Francisco Gordillo/ Sociologists

Project manager:
Mathieu MArion


To try and understand what constitutes “news”, how it is manufactured, how it is chosen and above all the great diversity it encompasses, the students were invited to catalogue, follow, classify and analyse a series of current affairs over the year. It gave them a chance to take a journey through the written press, television, internet and social networks, of course, but also and above all to take a journey with the people that produce and receive the news. 

Early Stages
The contributor talked to the students to understand their rapport with current affairs: what does “news” mean to the group? Which media do they use to find out about current affairs? Do they trust this information? What was the latest event they heard about? What, for the group, is the difference between current affairs and news? This workshop involved sketching the group’s relationship with the project’s theme. In order to make his/her questions more tangible, the sociologist took time to introduce the students to a selection of the sociology of the media’s founding texts (Tocqueville, Marx, Lazarsfeld).

“News” in the Plural
With the help of the sociologist, the group chose 2 “hot news topics” and tried to catalogue, classify and analyse the mechanisms of news. The class drew up an initial checklist to interpret media activity. How does an event become “current affairs”? What is the creation process of a current event?  How long did it last and how was it replaced by “new news”?

Field of Investigation
The specific methods of sociological surveys were used to translate analyses from the previous stage into investigations or questions. The group carried out a survey of those who contribute to the production of news (including by attending Médiapart and Libération editorial conferences) as well as surveying people who receive this information (parents, teachers, friends, etc.). The contributor showed the students how to construct indicators, how to draw up interview grids and how to draft a questionnaire. The students interviewed a dozen people who contribute to the production of current affairs and identified fifty people among their friends and families who had “received” this news.   

The third stage involved the students and contributor deciphering the questionnaires and making analyses and comparisons: who are these people involved in news and its broadcasting? What are their motivations and is there a new media genre? What are the issues at stake for professionals in this sector? What are the consequences for news? The class returned to its original hypotheses and compared them with what they learned in the field. What observations could they make? How did the interviewees receive and experience news? What trends could they pick out? The contributor and students made graphic representations of their findings

Showcase :
For Researchers: On April 20th 2018, the class was invited to present its research at the INJEP. The groups of students were received by research project leaders in the site’s conference hall to present their findings: topics, methods used, observations and trends, etc. After the presentations, the students and sociologists had more informal discussions. The aim was to give an overview of the current situation: for the students, what do they expect and hope for with regard to current affairs and what did they learn from their surveys?
For the researchers and professionals, how can they underpin a framework of trust, plurality and truth?
For the school community: As they did for the INJEP conference, the class presented its findings to the school community.


Outings (selection):
- The Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports
- National Institute for Popular Education and Youth (INJEP)
- Libération
- Médiapart
- Human rights advocate
- Press Institute

Participating Schools:
- Class 5ème , Collège Jean Lurçat, Saint-Denis
- Class 4 ème, Collège Pierre-André Houël, Romainville
- Class 3 ème, Collège Clos-Saint-Vincent, Noisy-le-Grand
- Class 4 ème, Collège Evariste Galois, Sevran
- Class 3 ème, Collège Gustave Courbet, Pierrefitte-sur-Seine



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