Defending the frontline in the battle against fake news (Stéphane Gendarme, Groupe M6)

Reading time : 2 minutes

Fake news – and the danger it poses – has become a growing concern in recent years. But the issue has been brought to a head by the Covid-19 pandemic crisis

People need reliable and trusted information now more than ever, yet it can be hard to find at a time when the number of online news websites and social media content claim to provide it has never been greater. Stéphane Gendarme, Director in charge of News at M6, explains what makes broadcast news the most trusted information source.

The daily task of an editorial board is to check information. We’ve followed a specific process to do so for many years and combatting fake news – checking information that comes from social media as we would for every source – is part of this

Once a topic has been chosen, an angle or an image found, the reporter or editor charged with reporting checks its validity. The information is then checked by the editor-in- chief who discusses the content with the journalist.

A rigorous approach is essential because all too often, the less serious media outlets don’t ask enough questions.

The investigations section of our editorial team applies three checks to ascertain validity.

The key things we look out for are the source of a piece of a piece of information or an image and when it came to light. Also important is to check the identities of the people featured or involved and the third-party media or social media outlet from which a piece of information or an image has come. We can also use verification software to confirm an image’s source and also how and when it was first used – such as its first appearance online.

Our editorial management has the final say on whether to publish or not and, if there is the slightest risk of error, it will intervene. When there is even the slightest doubt, it’s an automatic no.

We have also pioneered a regular Saturday slot on M6 news dedicated to fighting fake news – or InfoX, as it is known in French.

In our weekly ‘Explain It To Us’ slot an on-screen journalist lays out that week’s fake news, explains what was fake and how it was made up or taken out of context, and then how it was picked up and spread by the media or the Internet.

Stephane Gendarme

Stephane Gendarme

Head of News for the M6 channel, Groupe M6

Stéphane Gendarme has been the Head of Information at M6 since 2015. Prior to his promotion, he has held several different roles within Groupe M6 over the past 15 years, including Editor-in-Chief after starting out as a journalist. In recent years, he has turned his attention to combatting fake news to keep M6’s news stories trustworthy.
He also studied information at the Institut français de presse.
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