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Media in France Week 14

The Political Executive and News Management

This week we will move beyond how governments attempt to shape the institutional media landscape, and look at how they try to shape media news content and define media agendas. In the first half of the session we will discuss this in general terms (following the questions below), and then go on to try to compare the approaches (in very different contexts) of Sarkozy and de Gaulle. In the second half, we will look at some archival footage of exchanges between journalists and presidents (see right), and I will give a lecture on Sarkozy's relation to television which also places this in the long-term context of the shift from 'paleo-television' to 'neo-television'

Please download and/or print off before the lecture these two short handouts. Please also read through them before the lecture.

Three television dynamics: a table (PDF Document); Sarkozy on television: some quotations (PDF Document)

For lecture on these sheets, click below:



Core reading: Raymond Kuhn, The Media in Contemporary France (2011), chapter 5

Take notes on the following questions:


  1. In what ways did post-war French governments exercise censorship and control over the media before the 1980s? (pp. 102-5)
  2. List the conditions that have allowed the French executive government over recent decades to work as a 'primary definer' of media output. (pp. 105-113)
  3. List the factors which obstruct or challenge the executive's aspiration to act as a primary definer. (pp. 105-113)
  4. List the news management strategies adopted by Nicolas Sarkozy, and assess insofar as you can their efficacy (pp. 113-119).


Further question for reflection:


Compare the ways in which Nicolas Sarkozy and Charles de Gaulle controlled television output. Jot down what you think the key contrasts and similarities are.






Lecture/seminar recordings from this week:












Sarkozy in interviews:


An easier ride. (2009)

An example of journalistic 'impertinence' (2008)