The fourth estate: the media (expression orale L)

Merci !

Annales corrigées
Classe(s) : Tle L | Thème(s) : Lieux et formes du pouvoir - L'épreuve d'expression orale
Type : Expression orale | Année : 2012 | Académie : Inédit
Unit 1 - | Corpus Sujets - 1 Sujet
The fourth estate: the media

Série L • Expression orale






Sujet d’oral • Lieux et formes de pouvoir

expression orale • Série L

> Présentez cette notion à l’aide des documents du dossier.

Document 1

Document 2

a. London 2012 Olympics

Olympics cover up: Women beach volleyball players told they can wear MORE clothes

Scantily-clad players could be a thing of the past as organisers change the rules regarding female players’ outfits at the London 2012 Olympic Games

It’s one of the newer Olympic sports, but beach volleyball has developed a cult following since its Games debut in 1996.

The women’s game in particular proved particularly popular, due in no small part to the lack of clothing worn by the participants. Beach volleyball in bikinis: because it’s too warm for sleeves, surely?

But that could all be about to change, with the introduction of some more relaxed rules regarding the uniforms worn on the sand during the London 2012 beach volleyball tournament.

Female players will now have the option of wearing less revealing uniforms as the sport’s governing body looks to respect the varied cultural beliefs of its competing nations.

The International Volleyball Federation (FIVB) stated that shorts can be worn instead of bikini bottoms, while bikini tops can be replaced with sleeved tops.

The modified rule permits “shorts of a maximum length of (1.18 inches) above the knee, and sleeved or sleeveless tops.”

The choice will remain with the teams and players themselves, and the relaxed rules are already in place having been introduced to the 142-nation Continental Cup qualification tournament for the Olympic Games.

An FIVB spokesman explained, “Many of these countries have religious and cultural requirements, so the uniform needed to be more flexible.”


Spanish duo Alejandra Simon and Andrea Gonzalo Garcia in “traditional” beach volleyball attire

b. Sports: Olympics

It’s a cover up: Olympic beach volleyball players to be allowed to wear more clothes

Simon Rice • Tuesday 27 March 2012

Beach volleyball, a sport with minimal following in Britain, was one of the most sought after events when tickets went on sale for this summer’s Olympics.

Since its induction as an Olympic medal event in 1996, the bikinis worn by female competitors have helped define and raise the profile of the sport.

Cynics might suggest that the demand for tickets has been driven as much by the appeal of watching bikini clad competitors as it has been a desire to see world class volleyball in London.

But those heading to Horse Guards Parade this summer hoping to see semi-naked players competing in the sand near Buckingham Palace may find themselves disappointed after the sport’s governing body ruled that female players will have the option to wear less revealing outfits.

The International Volleyball Federation (FIVB) has said it will allow shorts and sleeved tops at the 2012 Games, along with the traditional bikinis and body suits already permitted.

“Many of these countries have religious and cultural requirements so the uniform needed to be more flexible,” FIVB spokesman Richard Baker told The Associated Press.

The less revealing outfits were already permitted for the five Continental Cups, through which 142 nations are competing to qualify for the London Games.

“Winners of the Continental Cups will qualify for the Olympics, so it has to be applied,” said Baker.

The modified rule permits “shorts of a maximum length of three centimeters (1.18 inches) above the knee, and sleeved or sleeveless tops”.

The FIVB insists competitors have always had a choice what to wear. “They weren’t forced to wear a bikini,” Baker said.

Document 3

The Post Investigates

“Five Held in Plot1 to Bug2 Democratic Offices Here,” said the headline at the bottom of page one in the Washington Post on Sunday, June 18, 1972. The story reported that a team of burglars3 had been arrested inside the offices of the Democratic National Committee in the Watergate office complex in Washington.

So began the chain of events that would convulse Washington for two years, lead to the first resignation4 of a U.S. president and change American politics forever.

The story intrigued two young reporters on The Post’s staff, Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward who were called in to work on the story. As Woodward’s notes show, he learned from police sources that the men came from Miami, wore surgical gloves and carried thousands of dollars in cash. It was, said one source, “a professional type operation”.

The next day, Woodward and Bernstein joined up for the first of many revelatory stories. “GOP5 Security Aide Among Those Arrested,” reported that burglar James McCord was on the payroll6 of President Nixon’s reelection committee. The next day, Nixon and chief of staff H.R. Haldeman privately discussed how to get the CIA to tell the FBI to back off from the burglary investigation. Publicly, a White House spokesman said he would not comment on “a third rate burglary”.

Within a few weeks, Woodward and Bernstein reported that the grand jury investigating the burglary had sought testimony7 from two men who had worked in the Nixon White House, former CIA officer E. Howard Hunt and former FBI agent G. Gordon Liddy. Both men would ultimately be indicted8 for guiding the burglars, via walkie-­talkies, from a hotel room opposite the Watergate building.

In Miami, Bernstein learned that a $25,000 check for Nixon’s re­election campaign had been deposited in the bank account of one of the burglars. The resulting story, “Bug Suspect Got Campaign Funds” reported the check had been given to Maurice Stans, the former Secretary of Commerce who served as Nixon’s chief fundraiser. It was the first time The Post linked the burglary to Nixon campaign funds.

As the two reporters pursued the story, Woodward relied on Mark Felt, a high ranking official at the Federal Bureau of Investigation, as a confidential source. With access to FBI reports on the burglary investigation, Felt could confirm or deny what other sources were telling The Post reporters. He also could tell them what leads9 to pursue. Woodward agreed to keep his identity secret, referring to him in conversations with colleagues only as “Deep Throat”. His identity would not become public until 2005, 33 years later.

While Nixon cruised toward reelection in the fall of 1972, Woodward and Bernstein scored a string of scoops, reporting that:

• Attorney General John Mitchell controlled a secret fund that paid for a campaign to gather information on the Democrats.

• Nixon’s aides had run “a massive campaign of political spying10 and sabotage” on behalf of Nixon’s reelection effort.

But while other newspapers ignored the story and voters gave Nixon a huge majority in November 1972, the White House continued to denounce The Post’s coverage11as biased12 and misleading. Post publisher Katharine Graham worried about the administration’s “unveiled threats13 and harassment14”.

[August 1974: Nixon resigned.]

1. plot: complot.

2. to bug: mettre un lieu sur micros cachés.

3. burglar /'bɜːɡlə/: voleur.

4. resignation /ˌrezɪɡ'neɪʃn/: démission.

5. GOP (Grand Old Party): Parti républicain

6. payroll: (liste du) personnel.

7. testimony: témoignage.

8. indicted /ɪn'daɪtɪd/: mis en examen.

9. lead /li:d/: piste.

10. spying /'spaɪɪŋ/: espionnage.

11. coverage /'kʌvərɪdʒ/: couverture (médiatique).

12. biased /'baɪəst/: partial.

13. threat /θret/: menace.

14. harrassment: harcèlement.

Les documents

Le Daily Mirror

Le Daily Mirror, ou Mirror, existe depuis 1903. Il est tiré quotidiennement à 1 700 000 exemplaires. En 2004, son directeur a dû démissionner suite à la publication de photos truquées montrant des soldats britanniques exerçant des sévices en Irak. Ce quotidien britannique est publié en format tabloïde et demeure une publication populaire, même s’il cherche actuellement à se distinguer des journaux à sensation.

Pour en savoir plus :

The Independent

The Independent est un journal britannique assez récent puisque fondé en 1986. Il est lui aussi publié en format tabloïde même s’il ne fait pas partie de la catégorie des journaux à sensation. Il tire à 180 000 exemplaires par jour.

Pour en savoir plus :

Le Washington Post

Le Washington Post existe depuis 1887. C’est un quotidien américain qui a gagné sa renommée en restant fidèle à une ligne éditoriale consistant à dire la vérité, quoi qu’il advienne. Ce fut notamment le cas lors de la guerre du Vietnam, et également lors du scandale du Watergate évoqué dans l’article proposé. Il est tiré à 750 000 exemplaires.

Pour en savoir plus :

La présentation

Pistes de recherche

  • Le thème des médias est ici relié au thème plus large des « Lieux et formes de pouvoir ».

Cet ample sujet peut être abordé sous plusieurs angles. En l’occurrence, les documents réunis ici nous proposent de le traiter sous trois de ses aspects particuliers.

  • Le document 1 pose la question de l’éthique en matière d’information et de la manipulation d’image. Il peut être mis en relation avec d’autres documents iconographiques rencontrés en classe ou ailleurs : photomontages assemblant des personnes dans une situation induisant des rapports fictifs, altération de photos à l’aide de logiciels pour modifier l’aspect des personnes, transformer des éléments du contexte et ainsi parfois changer la portée symbolique du document… Ce dont il est question précisément, avec ce document 1, est le choix exercé par les médias sur ce qu’ils donnent à voir d’un document original : selon le cadrage, dans un cas, l’homme à terre est menacé ; dans l’autre cas, il est sauvé. La perception par le lecteur en est donc radicalement différente. En opérant cette sélection parmi les éléments du document, les médias choisissent l’impact qu’ils veulent avoir sur l’opinion publique. De même, en décidant de publier, ou ne pas publier, des photos qui leur parviennent, sans en avoir vérifié l’authenticité (par exemple, lors de l’exécution de Ben Laden), les médias orientent notre perception de l’événement.
  • Le document 2 confronte deux extraits de presse portant sur une même information – en soi assez anodine – mais traitée par deux journaux à la ligne éditoriale différente. Si les deux journaux sont publiés sous le format tabloïde (soit la moitié de la taille d’un journal traditionnel), l’un est réputé « plus sérieux » que l’autre. L’analyse de l’image, ainsi que du ton utilisé par le journaliste, témoignera de la différence de traitement de l’événement. Les observations faites à cet égard pourront être mises en lien avec des comparaisons entre des médias autres – notamment les informations sur les différentes chaînes de télévision.
  • Le document 3 est un article du Washington Post… sur le Washington Post. Le journal revient sur son rôle déterminant en tant que contre-pouvoir dans l’affaire du Watergate, qui est résumée dans le texte : dans l’immeuble du Watergate, siège du Parti démocrate, a eu lieu en 1971 un cambriolage apparemment anodin, mais deux journalistes du Post, aidés d’un indicateur surnommé Deep Throat (« Gorge Profonde »), révèlent que les « cambrioleurs » ont en réalité posé des micros… Ce scandale conduit à la démission du président républicain Nixon en 1974. Comparé aux deux documents précédents, cet article témoigne donc de l’utilité de la presse dans les rouages de la démocratie, en tant que « quatrième pouvoir ».

Vocabulaire utile

The Fourth Estate (le quatrième pouvoir) ; to strike a balance (établir un équilibre) ; at work (à l’œuvre) ; to disclose (révéler) ; to prevent from doing (empêcher de faire) ; anything and everything (n’importe quoi) ; a challenge to established authority (un contre-pouvoir) ; a programme, a broadcast (une émission) ; to broadcast (diffuser) ; the news (les informations) ; a channel (une chaîne) ; reliable /rɪ'laɪəbl/ (fiable) ; the reliability (la fiabilité) ; to make up (monter de toutes pièces) ; a fake /feɪk/ (un faux) ; an event (un événement) ; biased /baɪǝst/ (partial) ; the headline (le gros titre) ; circulation (le tirage) ; a quote (une citation) ; to appeal to (parler à, séduire) ; casual /'kæʒjʊl/ (désinvolte).


Vocabulaire utile

A fake (un faux) ; biased (partial) ; to trust (faire confiance) ; current events (les actualités) ; to focus on (se focaliser sur) ; to disappear overnight (mettre la clé sous la porte) ; to adjust to (s’adapter à) ; up to date (mis à jour) ; the Arab Spring (le printemps arabe) ; the uprisings (les soulèvements) ; to post (publier) ; gullible /'ɡʌləbl/ (crédule) ; mindful /'maɪndfl/ (soucieux de, attentif à).

Pistes pour les candidats en LVA (langue vivante approfondie)

Le dossier présenté à l’épreuve orale du baccalauréat doit être constitué de deux documents étudiés en classe, plus un laissé au choix du candidat, choix qui devra être justifié.

Sur le thème proposé, on pourrait imaginer l’ajout d’un document tel que :

  • un cartoon sur les médias et leur évolution ;
  • un script et/ou un document vidéo sur une conférence de presse importante ;
  • une photo truquée, ce qui diffère de la question du cadrage et recadrage posée par le document 1 (elle introduira un questionnement sur l’authenticité des documents publiés et ouvrira un débat sur la vérification des informations : d’une part, par les médias qui les diffusent, et d’autre part, par les lecteurs ou spectateurs qui prennent souvent pour acquis qu’un document diffusé est un document « vrai »).

Vocabulaire utile

To take for granted (prendre pour acquis) ; eye contact (le contact visuel) ; to check (vérifier) ; to tell the truth (dire la vérité).




The media play an important part in today’s society; after the executive, the legislative and the judiciary, they are even called the Fourth Estate, as they play a part in striking a balance between the various forms of power at work in democracy by informing people and disclosing truths. Thus they prevent governments from doing anything and everything


  • This is precisely what happened in the Watergate scandal in 1971 (document 3). This article, taken from the Washington Post, explains how the newspaper disclosed the scandal, thanks to investigating journalists who found out about the connection between supposed burglars in a building and the Republican Party. They discovered that the burglary was in fact an attempt at bugging the Democrats and spying on them. This scandal led to the resignation of Republican President Richard Nixon. Therefore, we can see how useful the media can be in order to maintain a balance within democracy, working as a challenge to established authority.
  • The USA is home to famous news broadcasting channels such as CNN or Fox News, which, even though they are not always considered as reliable, are watched throughout the world thanks to satellites. But reliability is always a problem as far as the media are concerned. If they sometimes disclose scandals, they can also make them up, or manipulate people. This problem is related to media ethics. It is not only about photo montages, fakes, that can be shown to people and presented as true. The use of a picture such as document 1 proves that the whole meaning of a photograph can change, depending on what part of the photo you show. Most media depend on visual information, which is crucial; people believe what they see, and do not question the authenticity of a document. But this picture proves that even when a document is authentic, the choice of what you show of it may affect our perception of the events.
  • Along the same lines, the most famous news channels in the United Kingdom are the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) and ITV (Independent Television); but the press is also a very important medium in the UK, with widely circulating newspapers – which use photographs extensively. The British press is also characterized by the existence of two different categories of news­paper: quality press such as The Times or The Independent – with more objective, reliable news –, and sensational press, or tabloids, such as The Sun or The Daily Mirror. The two newspaper articles illustrating the same topic (document 2) from a different perspective show how the news can be presented in a biased way. There are a lot of common points in the two articles, from the headline, which uses the same play on words, to the quotes. But some differences are noticeable and interesting: The Daily Mirror uses a picture of women in bikinis (qualified as “a lack of clothing”), probably to appeal to readers, or adopts a casual tone (“Because it’s too warm for sleeves, surely?”) whereas The Independent uses a more ironic tone (“the bikinis… have helped define and raise the profile of the sport”) and looks more neutral.


To sum up, these three documents present different aspects of the media, which are necessary for a democracy, but which we must not always trust.


Voici les questions qui pourraient être posées par l’examinateur lors de l’entretien.

>You’ve mentioned fakes and biased information. Do you have examples?

As for biased information, as some newspapers are close to some political parties, you can compare what type of information is given by right-wing and left-wing newspapers, and how it is dealt with. As to fakes, one of the most recent was a photo of dead Bin Laden’s face. In fact it was a montage of several pictures. I have also read about a photographer of the Los Angeles Times covering the war in Iraq who was fired because a photo he submitted was a composite of two photos. In class we also talked about the press in times of war. During the Gulf War, for example, lots of pictures or videos were published, taken by American planes bombing military targets. They looked like war-games pictures, but nothing was shown of the victims – soldiers and civilians – on the ground. It looked like a “clean” war, which can’t exist. And without going into political and war pictures, everybody can notice that stars in tabloids often look younger than what they actually are: their wrinkles have disappeared!

>I like the first document. Can you tell me a bit more about it?

It shows how a picture can have a different meaning depending on the framing. When you just look at the part on the left, you see a soldier deliberately threatening, or even killing, an enemy. The picture denounces the brutality of the army. When you look at the part on the right, you imagine a soldier giving water to a wounded man and saving his life. A form of praise for the army. In the real picture you can guess, with the colours of the uniforms, that the man in the middle is a prisoner, given something to drink by one soldier while the other soldier is keeping him under guard. This shows how a photo, which is supposed to show reality, can be biased depending on which part of reality you select.

>That’s right. Would it be the same with other media?

Of course. It is even easier to edit audio recordings and cut off sentences that you don’t want to be heard. It is the same with videos. The same scene can have a different impact and meaning depending on the commentary, or even the background music. Political propaganda is based on that, so why shouldn’t a newspaper do the same? This is why you have to be aware that the truth is only to be found after consulting different media on the same subject.

>Right, and you, what media do you find most reliable?

Well, my parents watch the news on TV, and I sometimes do too, but I don’t really trust what I hear and see. I am deeply aware of and concerned by the influence the media can have on our perception of current events. Sometimes, as I have just said, just by the way they focus on something and omit something else, yes, by the way the news is presented. Actually, I believe the press, newspapers and news magazines, that is the most reliable, as long as you deal with quality press, but I don’t have much time to read the papers, so my main source of information is the Internet, mostly. Its advantage is that you can get informed at any time, it’s really convenient… and free.

>Do you think the press has a future?

I’m not sure… I mean, even in the United Kingdom, the global circulation of newspapers is decreasing, so that some famous papers are in danger. Some have even disappeared overnight due to the competition with the Internet. Yet, some press groups have found a solution and now publish their papers online. They have managed to adjust to our modern world.

>If the press disappears, then the Fourth Estate, as you said, will disappear too…?

Well, when I read about the News of the World, which had to close down when it was revealed that it had tapped the phones of famous people, I sometimes wonder about the Fourth Estate… But, well, I hope it won’t. But it is noticeable that more and more, big media companies tend to disappear and the most up to date news is given on the Internet, by blogs for example. It was the case during the Arab Spring, when journalists couldn’t access the countries where the uprisings took place. Instead, the people who took part in them posted messages on their blogs to get everyone informed of what was going on.

>Well, isn’t that a bit dangerous? I mean, you said that your main source of information is the Internet, but how can you be sure the information given by non-journalists on the Internet is reliable when even what is given by the press can be biased?

That’s right. But when you are aware of this, you don’t only trust one blog, for example. Reading different blogs that contradict each other will help you find the truth. The Internet is so reactive that when something particularly untrue is published, there will be lots of blogs and twitters to alarm you. Will the people, thanks to the Internet, be the Fourth – or Fifth – Estate?

Anyway, as a conclusion, anybody can now publish anything, but it’s the journalist’s job to check the information or warn people about where it comes from. This is why I do hope the press will keep on informing us and that more and more people will learn to be less gullible and to be more mindful of the truth of what they see or hear.

>So do I. Thank you very much.