Airzen: Feel-Good & Solution-Based Journalism à la Française


The past few months’ news’ cycles covering the war in Ukraine, the global warming crisis, and recent shootings in the U.S. have generated a lot of anxiety. While we need to stay informed, I have been on the hunt for something that would not constantly trigger my anxiety. So when Frenchly’s editor, Caitlin Shetterly, asked me about (any) good news I could share while she was writing her Le Weekend, I thought I’d tell you about Airzen

AirZen is a French media outlet entirely devoted to positive news and solutions. They do so by producing short podcasts and radio shows. I met with Olivier Montegut, associate editor at Airzen and he described it this way: “If you listen to Airzen, you will hear good news, actually feel-good news which will help you live better, act better, consume better and work better.” To these four fundamental pillars, Airzen also focuses on problem-solving: “We do solution-based journalism, meaning we try to not focus on the problem, like traffic for example, but rather on the solution, like a car-sharing mobile app that reduces traffic. Our goal is to put the spotlight on all of these initiatives, on these people, and their inspiring journeys, so that as our audience or readership learns about them they can be empowered to act as well.”

Solution-based journalism reports on solutions and attempts to find solutions to challenges through rigorous reporting. Montegut considers Airzen’s approach like an angle rather than a bias. He says, “We talk about the news and cover the elections, the Ukraine war, or global warming, but we do so through the lens of solution-based journalism. For example, Germany and Romania opened a humanitarian corridor to allow the people of Ukraine to evacuate certain cities, or how to host a Ukrainian family into your home. It is very benevolent to do so, but what does it entail? What questions should you ask yourself, and how can you help a refugee integrate into their new day-to-day life, how can you communicate, in which language, etc. We also report on initiatives like this truck driver who left from Auvergne with a full load of pantry items and drove it to the border, or this group of people who traveled to go save animals left in Ukraine. The common theme is the news, but when we talk about the war in Ukraine, we choose to shed light on more positive aspects of the situation.”

Airzen started broadcasting in October of 2021, less than a year ago. Olivier Montegut explains the audience has been doubling every month since its start, which goes to show a growing interest for positive news: “First, it makes people feel good. We are constantly inundated with information coming from all over: the web, social media, radio, tv. It’s overwhelming. This issue is that being overwhelmed leaves most of us paralyzed, like, how can we actually change an anxiety-provoking situation? We can say to ourselves that we have no power over the war in Ukraine or climate change, for example. It’s absolutely dreadful and frustrating. Millions of things are happening in the world simultaneously, and the lens we use to watch the news is just one among others. But from time to time, it’s good to switch lenses and to see what good is being done around us.”

It is indeed good to see what good is around us. In the early days of the war in Ukraine, I found myself having a lot of anxiety over the conflict and the future of humanity and I remember listening to this report on Airzen about what French people can do to welcome and help Ukrainian refugees. I appreciated Olivier Montegut’s honest questioning on air about how to cover the conflict on a positive radio station, and was truly inspired by the people involved.

Since all short documentaries and interviews you’ll hear on AirZen are also available in the form of short articles, this media is particularly accessible to non-native audiences, like that of Frenchly. The vocabulary used on air is not too complex, and the written notes offer great support to follow along the short audio columns. Give it a try! Here. 

Anne-Fleur Andrle is a Boston-based French-American podcast producer. She hosts a French Morning show called, French Expat, where she documents the journeys of French-speaking expats around the world. She is so passionate about podcasts that she created a podcast about it, called Génération Podcast, and has a weekly curated newsletter with French podcasts that she thinks are not to miss. She also consults for various organizations looking to reach new audiences with podcasts.

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