First Two Days

Nicknames, athletics and dealing with PR.

“Hey I’m going to be late. I got a ticket”

It’s Jacques-Alexis, my supervisor, on the line. It’s 8:45 on Thursday, my first day as an intern at Radio-Canada, officially. I’m as excited, as I’m stressed.

I stay outside the sports offices, even though I see the journalists from afar. Just when I finally realize that it’s ridiculous to stand there and wait for Jacques-Alexis, one of the journalists, Alexandre Couture, tells me:

“Hey, you’re new here right? I know Carl, he studied with me. He told me you were an intern here.”

Always nice to have someone break the ice for you.

By the time we finish talking, Jacques-Alexis walks by.

“Follow me.”

He’s in a hurry. We climb up a couple of flights of stairs and end up in the Centre de l’information or CDI.

The CDI is where shows like RDI en direct are taped

“We’re going to the assignment editors meeting.” They’re all there, in a conference room.

The editors of all the platforms and of every show are there to decide on which news will be covered today and by whom.

“I brought my intern” says Jacques-Alexis. I recognize a few faces, luckily. Maryse Gagnon, who interviewed me earlier this year is there. She’s the editor-in-chief of all Montreal-related news at Radio-Canada.

So is Paul-Eric Dumontier, who trained me a week ago. He makes a peace sign. I nod.

When we head down to the sports offices, Jacques-Alexis gathers all the journalists around:

“Everyone has a nickname here. We have to find one for you” says Jacques-Alexis, looking at Simon ‘Simmer’ Cremer. People in my hockey team used to call me ‘Lovejoy,’ I respond, naively.

‘Simmer’ interjects: “Remember Reverend Lovejoy in the Simpsons,” he tells Jacques-Alexis.

Reverend Lovejoy

“The ‘Rev,’” that’ll be your nickname. I’m the ‘Rev.’

I’m supposed to join Alexandre ‘Gascer’ Gascon on Friday, but Jacques-Alexis gets an email from the Canadiens’ Dominick Saillant, the team’s Executive Director of Media Relations, explaining that he doesn’t want any interns shadowing reporters: it’ll be Claude Julien’s first press conference as head coach of the Sainte-Flanelle.

Translation: it’s going to be a circus. It was.

Jacques-Alexis has a bigger issues, though. He’s looking for a second cameraman for the Canadiens’ practice tomorrow. Finding someone to work on a Friday night (the practice was at 4 PM, followed by a 45-minute press conference) is no easy task.

In the afternoon, I followed and helped out Jacinthe Taillon. She was doing writing and editing a reporter pak about a 9-year old snowboarder the day before.

We head out to a studio when she records her voice-over. Her tone is so strong, and I realize my awkward half-whispers in the the hallways of the CJ outside the editing lab are not definitely not on par.

Following the recording, I join the director, Louis, and the video editor in the editing room to see them work. Louis tells me that some directors ask the video editor to select specific sequences (he gestures at the screen, pointing different clips) while others, like him, are more lenient.

When their done, they call back Taillon who watches her pak one last time.

It’s now ready go on air.

On Friday, I join Jean-François ‘Chabber’ Chabot, a veteran reporter, to shadow him at the Grand Prix d’athlétisme de Montréal.

h/t to ESI Montreal for the picture, they’re on Instagram at esimontreal

We get back to the office at around noon. I’m then asked by Jacques-Alexis to write a short article. Jean-François also writes one, mine’s not going to be published, but Jacques-Alexis wants me to practice.

When I’m done, I show it to Guillaume Couture, one of the editors. I quickly realize that I ought to write better in French and use all of the resources available to me.

Two exciting, stressful and at times, confusing, days. But it’s just the beginning and I can’t wait for Thursday.