The New Watchdogs

Synopsis: This documentary takes an in depth look at France's mass medias and shines a light on corporate and political interests that shape the news.
Genre: Documentary
Production: Epicentre Films
  1 nomination.
104 min








I don't often confess,

but I must admit

that until recently,

I'd never read Paul Nizan.

Nizan was an angry young man,

raging against all the injuries

that the world inflicted then, and now.

He's angry with the philosophers

he heard lecturing at the Sorbonne,

talking about Man with a capital "M"

but never about men with a small "m",

men starving to death

or murdered in wars

or beaten up in police stations

all over the world.

He's angry with the liberal

bourgeois writers of his time

whose names we all know,

great writers who spend so much time


every nook and cranny of their souls

that the y're always 20 years too old

to tell the young who ask the m

when to act, and how.

Paul Nizan is a wake-up call.

That's why you should read him.

You may say,

"Why introduce us

to such a rude young man?"

His rudeness is why you should read him.

We don't lack polite writers.

What we lack, and need, are rude ones.

This plea for a writer

raging against the establishment

was broadcast in prime time

on one of France's two TV channels.

In the 1960s,

government control over the TV news

was not always very subtle.

The information Minister

felt free to invite himself on air

to unveil his revamped news program.

We've invited Minister Alain Peyrefitte

to present the new format

that he has commissioned.

Minister, would you like

to explain to our viewers

why you ordered

the se changes

to the news program?

First, because all recipes grow stale.

Unless we change, we become boring.

For example,

the idea of illustrating

the Council of Ministers' meeting

with scenes of their cars

arriving at the Elyse Palace

was new at first,

but after ten years of repetition,

the festival of car doors

opening and closing

has grown a little tedious.

For the journalists of today,

the se scenes from April 1963

epitomize a dark age,

the prehistory of their profession.

Happily, most of them agree

things are very different now.

I've been in TV since 1972.

I've seen a censorship

that went unsaid,

I've seen self-censorship

that went unsaid,

and I've seen the gradual rise,

under President Mitterrand,

mostly during the power-sharing period,

of a total freedom

that's never been revoked.

The Government

had to open up or lose its credibility.

In the old days,

Alain Peyrefitte had a direct line

to every office

in the public broadcasting HQ.

That's all history.

We've come a long way, no question!

"We've come a long way."

Since then, TV has burst into color.

There are many more channels.

For most journalists,

news reporting today

rests on three pillars:


Objectivity and Pluralism,

which safeguard

the media's democratic role.


Should we, like Paul Nizan,

rage against the "watchdogs",

the se journalists,

press pundits and media stars

who, like the writers of the 1930s,

bow down to the powers that be?

Of course not.

All that has changed.


So we have taken steps to ensure

that the French TV news

accurately mirrors

every highway and byway

of France and the world.

What a classic!

It's extraordinary to see

the Information Minister

telling the public,

"These are the steps that we,

the Government, have taken

to improve the TV news."

It seems long ago?

It seems antiquated...

or Soviet.

Antiquated or Soviet?

Anne Sinclair and Christine Ockrent,

two celebrity news anchors,

agree that their profession

has moved on.

The guests are unanimous.

These days, journalists

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    "The New Watchdogs" STANDS4 LLC, 2021. Web. 27 Jan. 2021. <>.

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