Steve Faguy, a media enthusiast, maintains the “Media Ownership Chart” on blog.fagstein.com and writes for the Montreal Gazette.
Follow him @Fagstein.
What is the greatest challenge for a journalist who covers the media?
I suppose it’s that the people you’re dealing with know your job very well. But honestly that’s usually more of an advantage than a disadvantage. Except, of course, when there’s bad news. Covering TV and in particular commercial radio means a lot of awkward so-I-hear-you’ve-been-fired messages.
How does media reporting differ from other reporting jobs?
It’s hard to say since I haven’t really done other reporting jobs, but you’re dealing with subjects that know how to communicate and do so on a daily basis. That also means that much of what they do is very public already. And often they break news themselves, on the air or on social media.
Are journalists open to being interviewed by you?
Usually, yes. Most of these people are professionals and know the value of promoting themselves, and they’re also nice people in general (though some can be thin-skinned sometimes). I’ve had a few cases where people refuse to speak to me, but they’re the exception rather than the rule. (And they know I’ll report on the story anyway, so refusing to talk doesn’t help them much.) More annoying is when I get sent to corporate PR, which happens a lot in more serious stories like people being fired.
What does a typical day look like for you?
My typical day revolves around my day (or night) job as a copy editor for the Montreal Gazette. I usually work 4pm to midnight, so I have the late morning and early afternoon for myself. About the only routine related to media reporting is that every weekday at 11am I check the latest decisions from the CRTC.
What’s your number one tip for PR people?
PR is not just media relations. Think about bloggers or other non-traditional media who might want to report on you, or even random non-media people who might want to get information from you. And consider that many stories will be them coming to you rather than you going to them. So have a single point of contact (one email address) for media queries, post high-resolution photos of your products or personalities on your websites, and don’t put stuff behind credentialled-media-only walls unless you have to.
What’s the story you’d most like to cover?
I’m not much of a big scoop chaser, and I don’t have any stories that have toppled governments or saved any lives. Probably my most talked-about one was a story about a Montreal website that had some ethical issues:
There’s also the analysis I did of Sun News Network, which is based on me just watching the channel’s 16 hours a day programming for two weeks and a bit at a time for months thereafter:
I wouldn’t submit either for any awards. But I pride myself on being open-minded.
What is the story you would love to work on?
I’d love to get inside the places that media would never be allowed to go. To see the negotiations between broadcasters and distributors over TV channels, or between broadcasters and producers. I’d love to be a fly on the wall as CRTC commissioners discuss an important issue and come to a decision. I’d love to just follow a big media company’s CEO around for a week. A lot of the stories I’d love to do are about how things work, because I think people want to learn about stuff.
But a lot of stories are things that could be easily doable, like profiles of people in local media, but I just don’t have the time. Or things that are difficult for logistical reasons, like going on a tour and visiting community media across Quebec or even across the country. If this was my full-time job, and I had a car, that’s something I’d love to do.
First website you load in the morning?
Assuming my phone hasn’t shocked me with something I got by email, Twitter is usually my first place to go. I get a lot of my news that way.
Coffee or beer?
Neither. I’ll take a hot chocolate or cider as substitute, respectively.