In 1995, a young francophone studying communications at the University of Ottawa set his sights pretty high: like just about every other francophone journalist wannabe in Canada, he applied for an internship at La Presse.
They turned him down.
In 1996, he tried again. Again, they said no.
He was pissed. How dare these bastards say no? Once he could understand, but twice? Either that newspaper is run by clueless managers, unable to see greatness before their very eyes, or this kid wasn’t nearly as good as he thought he was. Clearly, to him, the former had to be true.
So instead, he began small. A researcher for Radio-Canada in Ottawa. A journalist for a community weekly in Hawkesbury, Ont. The next year, he began working at Le Droit, the francophone paper in Ottawa.
In 1999, a recommendation from a journalist friend got him an interview at the Journal de Montréal. It’s not La Presse, but the largest francophone newspaper in North America is certainly a step up.
The interview was very serious. He had to bring in clippings of his work and show them to the group of managers who were judging him for employment. And he had a few good, serious articles with him. But knowing the Journal’s reputation for, as the French call it, “faits divers”, he tailored his application to that target audience, and rearranged his clippings to put a less serious story first. It was a story he did for Le Droit about a child getting bitten by a dog. The headline: “Circoncis par un chien” (I imagine the details are self-evident).
When his interviewers turned their pages past his CV to see that headline, they started laughing. He was hired as a reporter.
His name: Patrick Lagacé.
Yeah, that guy.