Political communications : after pedagogy, transparency?
In recent years, in the field of political communication, willingness to use pedagogy has repeatedly been discussed and presented as an absolute imperative. From Nicolas Sarkozy to the Ayrault government, when it came to send the ministers out in the field “throughout France” to explain the action of the Executive, there was one watchword: educate! But it seems to be gradually replaced by a new buzzword …
For some time, indeed, another requirement seems to steal the show and to take center stage: transparency. If educational communication reflects a choice of the government, that one is rather “endured” than “chosen”. It responds to a diffuse, yet steady, request that will certainly gain strength in public opinion and among all information stakeholders (internet users and journalists). Request for evidence of commitment and actions. Beyond that, there is another expectation, even harder to manage : moral justification. With implicit questions such as: are you actually acting with legitimate intentions? Do you behave in an appropriate manner in public … or in private lives?
Recent events multiply such examples. The Cahuzac case, emblematic in many respects, led to the introduction of a bill on transparency in public life that raises many questions, and most of all, reveals a deep-rooted underlying trend. Politicians and, more widely, leaders will be forced into transparency, whether they like and accept it or not.
Beyond “cases”, it is a new mindset that is gradually taking shape, rooted in many events that seem disconnected at first sight. The custom practised by journalists and consisting in highlighting and decrypting the corridors of power is illustrated in the summer special edition of the paper Opinion dedicated to these ” unsuspected places of powers” where politicians meet (stadium’s private boxes, opera, theaters, information channels studios), one example among many ; the growing media coverage of “whistleblowers”, whether in France with the doctor Irene Frachon and the Mediator case, or with Edward Swoden who made public some top secret classified information from the NSA ; and more generally, the usual practice of internet users and journalists to continuously comment and respond to speeches given by leaders – on social networks for some and / or on news channels for others … with risks of damage on both sides.
Internet users and journalists, too often, comment without analyzing. Reporting raw datas without prior accurate insight or analysis entails major risks of error or misunderstanding. Politicians and leaders, in turn, are over-feeding their twitter accounts, thus running the risk of losing hold. Spontaneity and transparency in communications are like crisis management: they require preparation. To avoid being in a position of justifying oneself, being contradicted … and forced to apologize.