The Climate (of) Crisis in the French Media: Introduction

In this blog about the climate (of) crisis, a group of Lille University master's students present a range of reports from the French media concerning the debates surrounding major environmental issues and their human impact. English versions of the articles, complete with glossaries and notes, provide an insight into how the French press is treating a range of controversial topics.

In many ways, the realisation being increasingly expressed in French public life that climate change has taken on the proportions of an imminent crisis simply mirrors the febrile atmosphere in most other developed countries. However, the French press and French language commentators do approach environmental issues from some slightly different angles. Some of the reasons for this are infrastructural. Intensive farming is more prevalent in France than in many other countries, and the heavy reliance on nuclear power means that its view of energy sustainability and security can, from the outside, sometimes seem rather skewed. Other cultural influences are also at play. The broader francophone world, for example, provides a variety of differing perspectives on the relationships between the global and the local and especially the vexed question of the displacements of peoples. Perhaps most tellingly, however, the French media are increasingly having to come to terms with a shocking reality. Metropolitan France, for so many a symbol of rich and fertile temperate stability, and a country that prides itself on its international reputation as a semi-idyllic microcosm of European geography, is waking up to the truth that it is itself a surprisingly fragile and vulnerable part of the world, and that it is to a large extent the successful development of modern French society that is to blame.

This blog, the eighth journalism translation project by students of the MéLexTra JET master’s degree in English-French translation at the University of Lille, is aimed at readers of Mediapart English who wish to learn a little more about French media coverage of the climate crisis and the surrounding debates in France.

Who are we?
Seven students completing their second year ‘JET’ master’s degrees (Traduction Juridique et Technique) specialising in legal and technical translation between French and English. This project is part of a module (Thème journalistique) in which French journalism is translated into English. It is overseen and edited by the module’s teacher, applying a collaborative student-led learning approach in the 'editorial classroom'.


  • Claire BRUNIN
  • Raphaël DELATTRE
  • Eugénie DUFEU
  • Barbara LEPELTIER
  • Cyriel MENIEL
  • Anthony MERCIER



What sorts of articles are translated?

The project has two main goals. The first is to allow non-French readers to delve a little deeper into debates surrounding the climate crisis and environmental issues in France, at both political and community levels. The second is to provide readers with an idea of how these issues are reported and discussed in the French press, and what this might reveal about the country’s news media. 3 groups of translators focus on articles covering 3 themes:
1. extreme climate events and environmental catastrophes,
2. displacement and effects on vulnerable communities,
3. political responses and debates.
Articles are taken from a wide variety of local, national and international French journalistic sources, appearing in print, broadcast and online. The project seeks, in part, to give non-French readers an insight into the various political leanings of the different sections of the French media and how these correlate (or not) with their positions regarding these issues. Articles have therefore been selected from sources with a broad spectrum of political leanings. An introductory ('standfirst') paragraph always provides some brief information on the source context.

Where can the original articles be found?
In every case, copyright and publishing details are provided in the translations: the original authors, photographers etc. are always indicated. Links are also provided to online versions of the original articles in their original publishing context, wherever possible.

What is our translation policy?
Translations are initially provided by groups of 2 or 3 students, one of which is the initial or lead translator. Following a 'strategic layering' approach, the other translator is responsible for sourcing and translating any quotations or other 'source level material' in the article, and the lead translator then adapts this material to his/her translation of the journalist's copy. These are sub-edited by the project editor, who also provides 'editorial level material' (like the headline, standfirst, notes etc.), and the article is then posted online. The article then potentially undergoes a final modification by the editors of Mediapart English before being moved to the club section of the paper’s front page. Stylistically, the translations are relatively close to the originals and there is a little less structural or syntactic reorganisation involved than would be the case in more general journalistic practice. Articles are not therefore modified to suit English journalistic ‘news style’, for example. One of the key goals of the project is to give non-French readers an idea of how the issues are presented in the French media. French journalistic style is therefore preserved in the translations. For a related reason, a number of terms are left in French, with links to a glossary article being preferred to explanatory translations. These include, for example, terms for local geographical areas, like département, and titles of political offices, such as député and préfet.

What are the glossaries?
There are certain terms, names, abbreviations and references that recur in the articles which require a little further explanation. Instead of providing cumbersome explanatory notes within the articles themselves, glossaries are available that can be linked to directly from the articles. Alongside information about the specific media outlets concerned, there are also translations provided for political party names and for some of the key issues in the French political context.

The following glossaries are maintained from previous projects:

Glossary 1: Party Names

Glossary 2: French Media

Glossary 3: Political Context

What kind of English is used in MéLexTra blogs?
Mediapart being a European publication, British English spellings are used throughout, as are predominantly British English grammar and vocabulary. However, the French constitution and political context being closer in some circumstances to the language culture of the United States than the United Kingdom, there are a handful of globally recognisable American English idioms that have naturally been incorporated in previous projects. Presidential candidates, for example, are said to be ‘running for office’ rather than ‘standing for election’. This contextual hybridisation of English varieties is likely to continue with all future projects.

House style meets the "Translation Bible"
The French term "Bible de traduction" is a concept borrowed from professional audiovisual translation practice, where the subtitlers or dubbing authors of a television series establish and share a set of fixed translation solutions and equivalences for recurring terms which, for reasons of continuity, all collaborators are asked to follow. One of the main features of this annual translation project is the continual expansion and renewal of what might be considered an expanded house 'style guide', specifically adapted to the translation of politically inflected French news journalism in English. In the 'editorial classroom', students not only pitch, discuss and choose between articles for translation, mirroring the activity of a traditional newsroom, but they also discuss specific translation choices and the possibility of adding a new, potentially recurring translation solution as a conventional equivalence in the project's style guide.

Le Club est l'espace de libre expression des abonnés de Mediapart. Ses contenus n'engagent pas la rédaction.