Wednesday, April 25, 2012

He Changed My Life

In much the same way I remember people who didn’t give me a break with considerable exasperation, I remember people who did give me a break with considerable gratitude.

This man gave me a break.

I didn’t know Jean-Claude Langlois had passed away earlier this month, until I saw the front page of one of his newspapers. His employees stood along the path leading into the church holding white roses. He was 77.

He built a newspaper empire and was honored with a National Assembly medal. A senator spoke at his funeral and his employees remembered him as a father to some and a brother to others.

I was 21 and fresh out of school when I walked into his office to apply for the position of Editor-in-Chief. Mr. Langlois told me he’d try me out for three weeks; I ended up staying with his company for three years. I knew him as a generous and fair employer.

He owned several French newspapers; I pretty much ran the only English one. I was editor-in-chief, reporter, layout artist, proofreader, translator and wrote a weekly editorial column, titled “Free Writes”. It was one of the greatest experiences of my professional life; editorial freedom, unlimited resources, a grateful readership and a chance to explore and test myself journalistically. I suddenly had access to a fleet of company cars, a prized corner office and a career.

Journalism as a hobby started for me as a child when a cassette tape recorder came into our lives. I would interview people, act in plays, sing and tell jokes, microphone in hand. In high school, I worked as copy editor on the yearbook. In college, I wrote concert and record reviews for the school paper and hosted a jazz radio show. In university, I wrote entertainment pieces for the paper, hosted a radio show and contributed to the yearbooks.

For me, journalism as a career started with a man named Jean-Claude Langlois.

To pay tribute, I sent an e-mail to his company website and received a gracious reply from his daughter a few days later. The last line of my e-mail reads as follows, “Au-dela de la tristesse que je me sens, je suis infiniment reconnaissant et je le serai jusqu’a le fin de mes jours.”

Wednesday, April 18, 2012


At around four o’clock this afternoon, Karen opened her office door and announced to staff within earshot, I had been hired as a full-time Anchor/Reporter. To a smattering of applause and some cheers, I responded, “thank-you”.

My News Director, Karen and former Assistant News Director, Alex, have been steadfast believers in my talent and work and I owe them a debt of gratitude for reaching out to me when they needed someone to replace Jamie during her maternity leave. Afterward, thanks to a variety of temporary arrangements, Karen kept me employed and smiling.

I am honored to have earned Karen’s trust with this full-time position, our late-night newscast and our determined and worthy television station.

Since being laid-off in 2008 when Global’s morning show “This Morning Live” was cancelled, it has been a long and, at times, frightening haul. My incredible friends, Susan and Tristan, never stopped believing in me and their unwavering affection and support provided the motivation I sought to continue digging, scrapping and finding work, as well as always doing it to the best of my ability.

I must thank Andre Douillard at Productions Maj for investing his support, as well as several other multimedia firms who gave me a chance to prove myself as a scriptwriter, translator, writer, researcher, content developer, copywriter, narrator and voice actor.

Anchoring Global Montreal’s “News Final” program is great fun and so is hosting the station’s weekly interview show, “Focus Montreal”. Thanks to everyone at Global Montreal for their congratulations today – and thanks to co-workers Sylvain, Ziad, Paul, Dan and David for the much-appreciated positivism they’ve poured out over the last couple of years.

I hope to help Global Montreal boost viewership. Check us out as we keep tabs on this wacky, wild world we live in.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

I Live in a Zoo

It’s yet another one of those movies she claimed to really want to see in a theatre (see 3/26/12 blog titled "Susan Van Pelt"). No surprise; we never saw it in a theatre and it finally came out on video this week. Judging by the trailer, it seemed to be an interesting story and one based on true life events. I rented it yesterday morning and today, we watched, “We Bought A Zoo”.

I enjoyed it, the story was terrific.

I got misty-eyed at least six times, which is not the biggest problem because with Susan’s gaze directed at the television screen, she’s less likely to detect my covert sentimentality. It’s the loud, involuntary sobbing that poses the biggest problem. When I sob, she cracks-up!

The movie is about adventure, courage, grief, loss, love and I certainly didn’t expect it to be that touching. These confounded movies seem to touch me more than most.

As soon as the movie was done, she excitedly scampered off to Tristan’s room, pushed open his door and exclaimed, “It was a sobfest!”

Her comment had nothing to do with her appreciation of the movie itself, and, instead, had everything to do with my emotional reaction to it. Then (see 1/4/12 blog titled "Blubber Free Zone") came the usual torrent of incredulity and belittlement.


I suppose it's just as well I saw this movie at home instead of in the theatre.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Merci, Mille Fois

He didn’t have to; but he did. Sylvain put himself in harm’s way for the reporter working the story and that happened to be me. Moments before our live report for Thursday’s evening newscast, the cameraman asked Sylvain to leave the comfort of our nearby microwave truck because masked protesters were approaching our camera.

We were covering yet another student demonstration and, typically, thugs had latched onto the protest in a bid to incite violence. Three police cruisers, a city bus and a building had been spray-painted; not as bad as the anti-police brutality march several days before. 

The students themselves were fine; polite and having a good time listening to music, eating hot dogs and throwing frisbees. The masked punks had been lurking around our camera and the cameras of other television crews near us.

I went on the air and began my report, not knowing the group of masked protesters was approaching from behind. I introduced a taped report and put my microphone down by my side waiting for my cue to resume speaking.

Watching the tape later, the thug closest to me is suddenly pulled from the television shot. That was Sylvain, likely saving me from some kind of trouble. As I stood in front of the camera waiting for my cue, Sylvain was surrounded by the hostile group. He, warning them not to touch me, they, screaming back at him, while gesturing aggresively.

I decided to shorten what I had originally planned to say because, to have continued live on the air for any length of time would, I believed, have invited an ugly disruption. I decided to let the audience know there were hostile protesters bothering us before proceeding with a hasty sign-off.

As my cue came and, with one of the protesters standing beside me, I decided not to refer to the hostile demonstrators at all and attempted to do a quick, generic sign-off. At the time, I felt like I was blithering, but colleagues later claimed it wasn’t as bad as it felt. I haven’t watched it again.

The taped report was about two minutes long and for those two minutes and the thirty seconds before, while I was on the air, oblivious, the monopod-wielding Sylvain stood his ground. As we packed our gear amid shouts, security arrived. Sylvain rolled up wires and lowered the mast on the microwave truck. I shook his hand, thanked him and we left.

Back at the station, the anchor told me I look scared, others said I appeared quite composed. The same day, David, another cameraman at the station, had been punched in the side of the head by an unruly demonstrator. Someone also claimed a television reporter had recently had a tomato smashed over their head during a demonstration.

Sylvain is an intense, high-energy, hard worker who makes it happen regardless of whether it’s possible to do, or impossible to do. In February, we had been sent to an apparent hostage-taking at the corner of Pie IX and Belanger. He had accidentally locked the keys in the microwave truck which had its mast up and motor running. The battery on the camera died. He borrowed a battery from a cameraman with another station and we did our report. The collapsible, seven-section mast, sixty feet high, didn’t go all the way down because humidity from the indoor parking garage had frozen in the cold air. As we waited for a taxi to arrive with a spare key, we hopped up and down on the back of the truck and rocked it from side-to-side in an effort to loosen the last frozen section of mast. We ended-up leaving the truck where it was parked, overnight. In spite of all the confounding variables, Sylvain made it happen.

For having our backs during Thursday's potential confrontation, I’ve nominated Sylvain for one of our office peer-to-peer awards. Encore, Sylvain, merci, mille fois.