Newsweek Article French-Bashing Stirs Lion Share of Social Roar

Localspeak
Candida McCollam Owner/Partner, Localspeak

Posted on January 10th 2014

Newsweek Article French-Bashing Stirs Lion Share of Social Roar

My brand analyst ego loves to surf social intelligence platforms like NetBase Insight Composer.  My competitive analyst super-ego haunts a social intel landing pad like a bat in a cave. But the fun really begins when my linguist-analyst id gets a chance to perch itself on cultural discord—on the very same dashboard, and in as many spoken languages as I wish. 

The argot of social media is highly emotive in any language.  Vitriol aside, the rich interplay of language conversations presents researchers and analysts with a unique opportunity to glean cultural difference.  However, accurate readings of unstructured data for cultural brand analysis are made possible only by and with a social media analytics platform engineered with natural language processing like NetBase.  Without it, these types of readings are an empty pursuit.

Journalistic research utilizing a social media platform like NetBase can be blustery and flamboyant—especially when global journalists clash.  This now is the case with the Franco-American social firestorm sparked by Newsweek reporter Janine di Giovanni in her recent article “Fall of France” published last week by the online magazine.  At the heart of Giovanni’s argument, and provoking a "fuite de cerveaux” (translated: brain drain), is her assertion that Socialist France has lead to the country’s economic stagnation and decline.  (Special note: One of Newsweek’s new co-owners includes French magnate Etienne Uzac, CEO of IBT Media.  To date, Uzac has withheld comment. ) 

According to the French, the irony seems to be lost on Newsweek and di Giovanni’s myopic reporting of the “facts,” which many French are calling the “fall of Newsweek  2” (referring to the publication folding of its print edition last year). 

Venant d'un journal ayant dû abandonner sa version papier pour se réfugier sur Internet, l'affaire ne manque pas de sel et encore moins de ketchup.)  Translated: Coming from a magazine that had to fold its print version and escape to the Internet, the incident has no shortage of salt and less ketchup.”

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The facts reported by di Giovanni have been ripped to shreds by a countless number of French journalists, politicians, civic leaders, academics— and French netizens, as a whole.  Le Monde bloggers were the most prolific critics.

Pocketed with clichés and innuendo—in addition to factual errors—some French analysts and journalists used the article to examine the underbelly of the Newsweek “facts” in order to discuss some of the hard economic and societal facts faced by France today Le Nouvelle Observateur’s Melissa Bounoua, for example, points out that U.S. investment confidence in France fell to 10% in October 2013.  

Indeed, many French citizens talk of leaving in order to escape its high personal income tax rate.

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Also disputing the integrity of Newsweek’s article is Slate.fr journalist Cécile Dehesdin, who added that Giovanni’s piece contained "… plus du trolling magistral que du journalism." (translated: more trolling lecture than journalism)

Other French bloggers were swift to repudiate the Newsweek article and its “factual” reporting.  The NetBase chart below provides a roadmap to dive into the intrigue of native rebuttals.

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Factual integrity aside, my NetBase cultural analysis reveals a proud but indignant country offended by age-old Anglo-Saxon banter:  French-bashing.

But as they say is France, “La démocratie donne la droit de dire les bêtises.” Translated: Democracy gives us the right to say dumb things. 

Viva la France!

Localspeak

Candida McCollam

Owner/Partner, Localspeak

Global social media analyst, native language research specialist and localization expert. Passionate about social media cultural discovery in global markets in 43 languages. Delivers global social media brand audits, analytics, brand innovation insights, media tracking, netnography. Yogini, linguaphile, passionate about global cultural research, social brand innovation, competitive positioning, social analytics.

 
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