Tag Archives: La Presse

Quebec Press Council roundup

A new round of decisions from the Quebec Press Council has been posted to its website. In addition to the Gazette case I mentioned earlier, and other dismissals, were some slaps on the wrist:

UPDATE (April 3): Le Devoir reports on these decisions a week later, saying the decisions were released “yesterday” which I guess means I’m psychic.

La Presse in the metro

Yesterday as I left my apartment to go to work, I was surprised when my paper wasn’t there to greet me. Instead, there was a copy of La Presse in its place. It’s not the end of the world if I don’t get a paper once in a while (it’s not like I pay for it, and I can just grab another one at work), and since my apartment is the only one of 11 units in the coop that gets any sort of newspaper subscription, I’m guessing it was just the delivery person throwing out the wrong paper.

The cover certainly piqued my interest (though I was aware of its contents having read a Montreal City Weblog item earlier that day): a special report on life in the metro.

Saturday’s stories include discussions with the various people you see in the hallways: buskers, shopkeepers, cleaners, Jehovah’s Witnesses, old people, and some of the less common sights like monks and blind people figuring out station layouts. There’s also a multimedia component online that includes some audio slideshows of interviews with other people.

Jean-Christophe Laurence also has a peek into the shift of a metro changeur, who says the most annoying thing about working there is having to be confined in a box and asking permission whenever you want to leave it.

But more interestingly, there are articles from Katia Gagnon on the workers who perform maintenance on the tracks between 2am and 5am when no trains are circulating and the power to the rails is cut, as well as those who monitor the tracks while the trains are running.

It reminds me of a piece that Alex Dobrota did for the Gazette three years ago in which he spent the night with maintenance workers.

Intervention des ambulanciers

Today, La Presse continues on a sadder note, talking about suicide in the metro. Hugo Meunier discusses the statistics, the most interesting of which is that 2/3 of people who throw themselves in front of metro trains survive, though they’re left with serious injuries and disabilities. He reports on a specific incident as an example (an article with a staggering seven anonymous sources, perhaps demonstrating how little people want to talk about it) and asks whether the STM, police and media’s policies of pretending suicides don’t happen is actually helpful at preventing copycats.

I’ve never actually witnessed a metro suicide (though I’ve seen the cleanup), so I can only imagine how disturbing it can be.

I can’t help but think that the statistic that shows you’re more likely to be seriously hurt than die attempting suicide in the metro would make a lot of people think twice about using that method to end their lives. Of course, then they’d just choose a method that wasn’t so public and we’d never know.

The Great La Presse Habs Scoop of 2009

La Presse scored the jackpot in Friday’s paper when it combined the four things that journalists and their bosses have wet dreams about:

  1. A scoop, a story that nobody else has
  2. A story filled with anonymous sources about a crime boss/drug lord/mafia king
  3. A story about a celebrity scandal
  4. A story about the Canadiens

The news dominated coverage yesterday and today, even as everyone was talking about Alex Kovalev’s performance problems.

Part of that was because of La Presse, whose hockey analysts were dropping hints on every TV sports show they could find Thursday night to say that a huge scoop would appear in the next day’s paper.

The various news sources did all they could to try and match La Presse’s story before it came out, but couldn’t gather enough before publication to put it all together. So while most just waited until it was out and summarized La Presse’s story or re-researched it, Quebecor-owned 24 Heures put out its exclusive story that four Canadiens players had been arrested.

The story, still available in the Google cache, by reporter Maxime Deland, quotes a single anonymous source “very close” to the Canadiens saying four players had been arrested on Thursday night on their return from Pittsburgh.

Of course, no such thing happened, so 24 Heures deleted the story. I found no correction on their website, and the story was not in Friday’s edition of the paper.

The story has gotten so big now we have the second (third?) day stories about whether the media is blowing this out of proportion. This piece at Fanatique summarizes the timeline of stories from the various news outlets, while Yves Boisvert, Patrick Lagacé and Mike Boone defend the media’s insane interest in the Canadiens as a mere reflection of what the fans want to read.

UPDATE (Feb. 26): Pierre Trudel says La Presse did a good job with its scoop… in an article in La Presse.

Tell La Presse what to do

La Presse is running ads in its paper asking readers to become part of an online panel (read: focus group) to take surveys and say what you like and don’t like about the newspaper.

An irony, of course, is that when you enter the registration form (which is huge), you’re greeted with the words “Loading (please wait)”. I guess Research and Analysis of Media, which runs this thing, doesn’t have a French version of its software.

Follow the Main with La Presse

La Presse’s Émilie Côté has put together an interesting little project, Michel Dumais points out: an audio guide to St. Laurent Blvd. The idea is that you download the “podcast” (media outlets need to learn what “podcast” means: putting audio or video online doesn’t automatically make it a podast – a podcast is something you subscribe to which doesn’t apply here), and listen to it as you follow its instructions and walk slowly up the Main from La Presse’s office to the Plateau.

The audio is very professionally done, and it shows that La Presse got professionals to produce and narrate this project instead of having some clueless in-house person to muddle their way through. I haven’t listened to the whole thing (I don’t have an hour and a half to spare), but it seems to work.

There is one nagging problem though: I can’t for the life of me find an MP3 download link, even in the extended user’s guide. You can listen to it live on the site (which is completely useless if you’re intending to listen to it while following its instructions), and you can click on a link to download it through iTunes, but if you don’t have iTunes you’re screwed. I don’t see the point in having website visitors forced to use a particular piece of software. Is Apple paying them or something?

UPDATE (Sept. 30): They’ve added a link to an RSS feed that has links to the MP3 files.

That said, if you don’t mind jumping through that unnecessary hoop, and you have a couple of hours to kill, it’s something to do.

Anglo comedians don’t want to talk to La Presse

La Presse’s Hugo Dumas is displeased that the big anglo headliners at the Just for Laughs festival didn’t give as many interviews to francophone papers as they did to The Gazette. While the Gazette got some of them for phone interviews (people like Kathy Griffin, Craig Ferguson, Joan Rivers, Trey Parker and Matt Stone, and Bill Hader), La Presse had to settle for an email back-and-forth with Jimmy Fallon. (The email part was a requirement from NBC, who also wouldn’t allow Fallon to discuss his upcoming gig replacing Conan O’Brien on Late Night — a request that led The Gazette to turn down the interview)

Setting aside the Fallon silliness (and the fact that La Presse didn’t mention that arbitrary content censorship in their article about him), I’m not sure what to think about the situation. On one hand, people shouldn’t be playing favourites with the media, whether it’s the prime minister or a trashy comedian. On the other hand, it seems silly that the franco paper is all bent out of shape because they couldn’t get a five-minute phoner for a fluff piece with a comedian.

Somehow, I think calling for a boycott of celebrity interviews is going to work. And that’s why their handlers can make these ridiculous demands on the media.

Steep learning curve

Dear La Presse,

Maybe you should get out of the video business. Your people are great writers, but they’re not equipped to do standups in the street about business stories. It’s just embarrassing.

By all means, put up videos of things that require video to properly understand. But if the video is a talking head surrounded by B-roll, why bother?

(I’d provide a link, but Cyberpresse seems to have something against people linking to its videos)

Olympics blogs ahoy!

La Presse unveiled its Beijing Olympics blog, noting that it’s sending a team of reporters, including columnist Pierre Foglia, to China next month. (Ten years ago, a newspaper sending reporters to the Olympics wouldn’t be news, but with the industry suffocating and cutting back, every plane ticket and hotel room has to be justified as a Newspaper Reporting Event.)

The Star, meanwhile, is putting links to its Olympics website on every page, including a logo next to its flag. Sadly, the website from Canada’s largest newspaper has about the same design finesse you’d expect from a YMCA bulletin board.

The Gazette’s Dave Stubbs, meanwhile, is still milking the Chinese news sources for weird stories relating to the Games on his Five-Ring Circus blog, which contrasts with Canwest’s matter-of-fact topic page.

The Globe and Mail hilariously has its Olympics coverage in a section called “Others“. Their Olympics blog is better, at least, though I’m not sure what “Wb” stands for in the URL.

The best Canadian Olympics news website unsurprisingly goes to the CBC, which not only has a general Olympics website, but has separate related sites for each major sport at the Games, each filled with stories. These will be the last Olympics the CBC has broadcast rights for.

And for completeness sake, Quebecor’s Canoe portal has yawnable websites in French and English for the Games with stories from its newspapers and wire services.

But even that’s better than CTV’s Olympics website, which doesn’t exist. (CTV has rights to 2010 and beyond, so you’d think they’d take advantage of the opportunity to get some practice online)

TVA mad at La Presse for suggesting they have managers

The petty legal war between the francophone media continues, as Groupe TVA (read: Quebecor/TVA/Journal de Montréal/Canoe) sent a lawyer’s letter to Groupe Gesca (read: La Presse/Cyberpresse) demanding that they retract statements that suggested the whole blurring-the-face-of-Bernier’s-biker-girlfriend thing was done on orders from management, according to Le Devoir (subscription-locked, sorry).

Specifically, it takes issue with an article from Le Soleil’s Richard Therrien and a blog post from Patrick Lagacé, both of which suggest that the decision was suspicious (the latter suggests that a friendship between Maxime Bernier and Quebecor’s Pierre-Karl Péladeau might have something to do with it).

I honestly have no idea what’s going through the minds of people at Quebecor (or just TVA?). Are they suggesting that management was not involved in this decision, and that any statement otherwise libels them somehow? Are we to believe that some non-management person made such a controversial decision on a major news story without discussing it with higher-ups?

And are we just to take it as coincidence that the Journal and TVA, both owned by Quebecor, are the only two news outlets that have kept her name secret?

Seriously, what’s their problem?

UPDATE: The Gazette’s Liz Thompson is also like: Dude, WTF?

Globe, La Presse dominate National Newspaper Awards

(The title of this post is coincidentally the same as the CBC.ca story)

The National Newspaper Awards (or Concours Canadien de journalisme) were handed out this week. I mentioned the finalists in March.

The big winner was the Globe and Mail, which won six first-place prizes (they were nominated 15 times, including a sweep of one category), and they’re very proud of themselves. Also posting a strong showing was La Presse, who won in five of the six categories it was nominated in. Again, lots of pride.

The biggest disappointment goes to the Toronto Star, who won only two categories despite eight nominations (though two were for the same category). But hey, they’re still proud of themselves too.

As for my beloved paper, it was shut out, winning in neither of the two categories it was nominated in. In fact, the entire chain combined picked up only three awards (two for the Ottawa Citizen, one for the National Post). Still it does a valiant effort covering the situation in its Canwest News Service story. You’ll notice it mentions the Globe and La Presse in the final paragraph.

Newspapers? Self-obsessed? Nevah!

In related news, The Gazette’s Words Matter campaign has won even more kudos, this time from the International Newspaper Marketing Association, which apparently exists. You can see a video of the TV spot on the website if you haven’t seen it ad nauseam already — ironically it makes you watch an ad before you get to the actual ad. You can also see a photo gallery of the “On Thin Ice” gimmick of a block of melting ice on a downtown street.

As for me, I’m still waiting for my awards.