While she strongly believes the earth is in trouble, Françoise Joly, Head of News & Current Affairs for TV5MONDE, decided to take a different tack for Earth Day 2023 as executive producer of “À la Vie, À la Terre: The Republic of the Congo” (To Life, To Earth: The Republic of the Congo – English subtitled). The documentary, premiering April 26 at 8:30p, celebrates the earth and all things living by offering stories regarding some of the most beautiful places around the world.
Earth Day has been around since 1970 – why do you believe it’s a topic that TV networks should still address today?
Every day, the world is witnessing the consequences of climate change. They are becoming more and more visible.
The Earth is burning. The planet is taking on water. We are already living in a time of catastrophes. Droughts, floods, storms, fires, extinctions of species, depletion of resources, pollution: this news tells us, in bits and pieces, the premises of another time that is promised to us, that of a climatic apocalypse.
This topic should still be addressed on TV networks because its environmental, economic and social consequences are being experienced on a large scale throughout the world.
Even more, this topic is more important than ever. We know that the sooner adaptation measures are taken, the more we can limit the consequences of climate change. It is about the future of all of us.
Rather than focus on content with eco-anxious disaster themes, you embrace a different programming philosophy. Why and what are your objectives by taking this contrarian route?
It is true that choosing to inform on these issues often leaves viewers filled with a feeling of guilt and eco-anxiety. By creating “To Life, to Earth”, TV5MONDE has decided to take another path. The one that goes to meet indigenous peoples or populations: farmers, fishermen, breeders, hunter-gatherers, beekeepers … and so many others. Guardians of our biodiversity. Where these men and women live and work, the landscapes are breathtakingly beautiful. On their lands, they are already suffering, often with profound impact from the consequences of climate crisis. They try to save what makes them live and makes us live. What feeds us.
In the front row of climate change, they testify to what they perceive, and they reveal themselves, resisting, resilient and adapting. We will travel with them. We will learn from them. Without preconceptions. Their stories are ours. They speak of our planet Earth, our common base. We give the floor to these people. Those who struggle, those who adapt and inspire their surroundings, those who defend another possible world that would be within our reach. “To Life, to Earth” wants to raise awareness of the consequences of climate change, without condemning, but by giving concrete examples of adaptation and, perhaps, even making viewers become involved.
With surveys pointing to consumer distrust of media and much social media buzz citing “fake news” what is the remedy for today’s television news outlets?
It is not a question of “remedy” but of commitment. The commitment to disseminate truthful, verified and thoroughly cross-checked information. Not to take anything for granted. To know how to question everything. Refuse to accept reports that are either incriminating or hagiographic. It also means giving the floor to people who are competent in their field: for example, in each film of “To Life, to Earth”, we give an important place to the words of recognized scientists: engineers, hydrogeologists, agronomists, anthropologists, cartographers… who better than them to explain and popularize complex climatic phenomena and their consequences? It is important to restore the trust with the audience. It is an everyday collective work at TV5MONDE.