World Association of News Publishers

FRANCE - engaging youth then and now

FRANCE - engaging youth then and now

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ARPEJ (Association régionale Presse éducation jeunesse) was founded in 1977 and is managed in partnership with the publishers associations for the regional (SPQR) and national press (SQR).

 CONTACT: Etienne Millien, e.millien [at]


In response to a new national media literacy mandate, five regional publishers agreed to invite trainee local and district school directors to spend 3 to 5 days in an intensive on-site internships. Interns met with the main company stakeholders, spent time on the job with reporters and then explored next steps in innovation and media literacy together with news staff. The roughly 30 interns were very pleased with the process, according to Etienne Millien of Sud Ouest, ARPEJ general manager.

Intern Magali Domicile explained some of the why. “Journalists and teachers need to confront their ideas in terms of media education,” she said. “We need [journalists’] help to make sure we identify the key elements to pass on to our students.”


The events of January 2015 that began with the massacre at the offices of the Charlie Hebdo satirical weekly newspaper and then saw immense popular support for freedom of speech, with the course of subsequent youth engagement actions very focused around that topic. 

Media education has been a central topic in public debate. Etienne Millien, who coordinates publisher actions in this area, was invited to a group meeting by the Minister for Education to find ways to improve news in education programmes. The minister has since then announced some decisions to emphasize media literacy throughout all stages of primary and secondary education, specifically emphasizing the need for teaching about freedom of expression and freedom of the press.

The theme of the 26th annual Press and Media Week (March 23-28) was changed to emphasize freedom of expressoin. Some regional newspapers published a whole double page or series of articles about the topic of freedom of speech in addition to their actions: competitions, class visits to newsrooms, and journalist visits to classrooms.

Interest in doing such class visits intensified. Etienne Millien was contacted by some young journalists in the Bordeaux region who wanted to get involved. He invited them to meet with the arm of the ministry for education that deals with NIE (CLEMI). They have since created a page on Facebook called La Passerelle (the bridge) where teachers can ask directly for journalists to come and visit with those journalists replying directly.

To help make the 100th anniversary of World War I come alive for teenagers, we created an array of journalism-related actions that put them in the position of a young person during that time. The details of the project are below.



France has long maintained a strong commitment to using news in the classroom in its efforts to boost news literacy and promote strong journalism. In 1977, executives from the newspapers Sud-Ouest and La Nouvelle République as well as members of the regional daily newspaper union (SPQR) came together to launch a new association focused on Newspapers in Education (NIE).

The French association ARPEJ (Association Régionale Presse Enseignement Jeunesse) was created to bring newspapers to students of all ages, including pre-schoolers, and make lasting connections.  Furthering its commitment, the association forged a relationship with the national education ministry’s media education organization, CLEMI, in 1989 to hold an annual national Press Week that is still going strong today. In 1991, the ARPEJ was a founding member of WAN-IFRA’s Young Reader Committee, which is a central component to the organisation’s activities around youth engagement in news.

The ARPEJ – whose members and directors are journalists representing 31 titles –creates novel ideas for youth engagement while maintaining a focus on using newspapers in the classroom, news literacy and journalistic practice among youth.  

One of the latest projects has been focused on the centenary anniversary of World War I. Across France, more than 400 classes have joined in a national project called “Tell me my story” that encourages 14- to-18-year-olds to explore World War I through journalism, reaching 6,000 secondary schoolchildren in all. This activity will culminate with a book featuring all of the student-produced work.

Students have been especially focused on the effects of the war on young people their own age and participated in workshops that challenged them to writing articles on youth during the conflict, with the theme "turned 14 in 14" and relying on  research testimonies and archives, and the interview. The story had to be accompanied by a vintage or contemporary illustration (object, letter, drawing discovered ...) . 


Looking to the future, projects under ARPEJ will evolve to include more multimedia and digital activities. The geographic reach is also set to broaden to involve European initiatives around media literacy in schools.

Two new projects are currently at the proposal stage. In one, the association would host a news story writing competition where students would respond to “What did the EU change for me?” The other option could be a reporting competition on alternative social initiatives -- such as a recycling company hiring people or a knowledge-sharing programme in a village -- taking place in their communities.



France has set the week of 25 to 30 March 2013 for its 24th Week of the Press and Media in School, continuing a focus on "Images to Inform".

The project, run by the media education arm of the ministry of education (CLEMI), brings together all kinds of news, print and broadcast organizations to help schools focus on media education during that week. It is one of the largest and oldest such efforts in the world.

Even the country's postal office gets involved, sending 45 000 packages of newspapers and magazines to schools. Teachers also get a background dossier that includes more than a dozen exercises to do with students at all levels. In 2013, they will also receive a DVD of commercials about various media.

The 2012 edition saw a total 220,000 teachers explore all kinds of mass media with more than 3.35 million students.


FALL 2011

The national "Mon Journal Offer" programme occurred again in 2011, for its third year, based on an idea originating from Ouest France (Jean-Emmanuelle Hutin). Once a week, people aged between 18 and 24 get a national or regional newspaper delivered to their residence.

Publishers cover half the cost of the subscription, with the Ministry of CUlture paying the rest. In the 2010-2011 effort, 200 000 youth accepted the offer. The overall cost is 10 million euros.

The result is mixed. Some newspapers received no follow-up paid subscriptions, and some received up to 15 percent.

For details:


L’ARPEJ again supported the country’s Week of the Press in March, which had the theme “Who makes the news (informations). They had produced a supplement on theme with a children’s newspaper (Journal Des Enfants which belongs to l’Alsace), a video on the theme with a regional newspaper (Midi Libre) and a special newsletter for teachers.



Aralynn McMane's picture

Aralynn McMane


2011-11-24 17:34

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The World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA) helps newspapers, parents and teachers work together to engage the young to create a literate, civic-minded new generation of readers all over the world. Read more ...