Long live slow data! (Gilles Vanderpooten)

There is a form of elegance in his judgment. Stability and good humor in his smile. But there is nothing happy about his attitude. Gilles Vanderpooten knows the complexity of the world, he has chosen to look at it from a benevolent, empathetic and optimistic perspective. Three adjectives that also characterize his understanding of information.

At the head of the non-governmental organization Reporters d’Espoirs, he works every day to prove that journalism has its place in analyzing and deciphering the realities of our society. Hardly a caricature, Gilles Vanderpooten prefers to focus on on-time trains rather than late ones. Faced with a growing mistrust of the media (according to a recent Kantar study, only 44% of French men and women trust traditional media), he continues to believe that it is possible to launch initiatives that respond to economic, social and economic demands. environmental issues.

In 2004, taking over the leadership of the Reporters d’Espoirs association, founded by Laurent de Cherisey, he promotes “solutions journalism”. His tools? Conferences, an award named after an NGO, the creation of a laboratory offering tools to the media (research and studies) or even a guide on climate information processing, as well as “La France des solutions”. together with about fifty media around concrete and inspiring initiatives especially on environmental issues.

Published twice a year, the latest “baby” by Gilles Vanderpooten aims to list recently published reports that make you want to act, others behind the scenes of data production and a few chronicles with an obvious and stated desire. “participate in building cohabitation”.

All this may seem a bit “utopian” or a distillation of feel-good feelings. And yet… nothing could be more pragmatic than Gilles Vanderpoote’s approach. The more we talk about positive initiatives, the more the desire to take action will spread, both in the media and in civil society, thereby contributing to the creation of “impact journalism”.

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At 37, Gilles Vanderpooten still has the hardest time explaining his interest in solutions journalism and his commitment to Reporters d’Espoirs. It was as if everything had happened to him…

By picking up the thread of his life, his action today resonates as more evidence. It starts with his attitude to the land. Born in Ariege, grew up far from the city. His parents chose to leave Paris in the 1970s to settle in the countryside and work around fifty hectares of land.

He was 7 years old when the family moved to Tarn-et-Garonne. Always in a rural environment. After founding a computer development company aimed at finding solutions for farmers, his father changed his ways, deciding to continue his studies in psychology and history. He defends a thesis on legumes and peas. “My brother and I never stopped teasing him about it.” Gilles Vanderpooten says with a smile, adding in passing that his brother was a gardener.

Earth and earth again, it is pointed out, is enough to form an idea about the future of the planet and want to participate in its protection. He understands this, but readily admits that when he started his studies, he was primarily interested in cars! He dreamed of working in cars or real estate.

Thanks to his father, a university professor, he discovered the existence of preparatory classes, passed competitions for business schools and said: “During oral presentations and I don’t know why, I develop a mindset of sustainable development. And I see that interests the jury.

In 2005, he joined the Audencia in Nantes and saw students talking about environmental protection, fair trade and CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) in the corridors of the school.

It’s time for action… Gilles Vanderpooten creates an association with his friends on these issues, which gives rise to the Nantes environmental film festival. This was followed by the Tour de France in the summer of 2008. With a foreword by Edgar Morin, a journey across the country in search of the ventures mentioned in the book. So many associative adventures made him aware of a form of citizen journalism.

So much for the first clicks, combined with several crucial meetings, including one with Stéphane Hessel. He publishes with him Keep yourself busyIt has sold over 250,000 copies and has been translated into 17 languages.

And another with Laurent de Cherisey, founder of Reporters d’Espoirs, who wants to promote “L’info solution”. The latter is looking for a director of content. Gilles Vanderpooten then left his position at Crédit Mutuel, where he lobbied in Brussels on CSR issues, and joined the NGO in January 2012.

Obligation

“These meetings were important for me. They participate in a form of commitment. It gives meaning to my work and my daily life.” Gilles knows Vanderpooten.

The fact that he left the traditional business world to see how it works in an alternative and associative world also contributes to his commitment. At the same time, he is becoming increasingly aware of the power of the media and how it can be a driving force at the center of society.

In the newsrooms, Gilles Vanderpooten discovers journalists who believe in his approach and the need to highlight positive initiatives. Sometimes he measures that the interest of some is opportunistic, but he confirms it “Don’t judge. The most important thing is that it exists.”. And to clarify, “Tomorrow the term “solution journalism” may disappear. We will continue our work.”

If he modestly minimizes the period of commitment to his action at the behest of the Reporters d’Espoirs, he still enters the conversation: “NGO, I eat it 24 hours a day.”

In 2050

“I will be 63 years old and I hope my hands are still dirty. For the rest, I am very bad at foresight. But I will be happy to know that the laboratory is working, that the research chair has been created and that the journal still exists.” Imagine Gilles Vanderpooten.

He remains optimistic, especially in these uncertain times marked by the climate crisis. And he wonders if in 2050 it will not be time to rely on the paper press again. “There will be reference newspapers because we need criteria. We’ll get back to this excessive screen consumption. With energy vigilance, it will also be digital vigilance. Long live slow data! » he said with a smile.

As a keen observer of the media, he develops a desire to fight “infobesity” betting on creation and, above all, collective intelligence. “We still need to build tomorrow’s media with journalists and citizens whose participation in this information factory is necessary. »

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