As Vice President of Information and deputy editor for La Presse, Éric Trottier is heavily invested in the way journalism is shaped by new media, especially as La Presse has shifted its focus towards digital publishing. With much optimism, Éric shares his thoughts on journalism today along with some advice for PR folk.
What is your primary goal as deputy editor of La Presse?
I actually have two primary goals. The first is that we strive on a daily basis to the offer La Presse+ readers the best information available. We want this information to be meticulous, exclusive, in-depth and provide analysis that enables our readers to confidently face the challenges of today’s society. I want La Presse to be relevant to its readers, whether that’s helping them form an opinion about their governing politicians, or guiding them to make the right travel destination selection.
My second goal is to help find a solution to the current problems facing the Canadian media landscape. We know that traditional media is struggling because advertising revenue has shifted to web platforms like Facebook and Google and have seen less subscription renewals. La Presse hopes to help breathe new life into Canadian media through major industry innovations. LaPresse+ (our tablet app) has proved to be an enormous success when it comes to readership and engagement. The app is opened 255,000 times per day and readers stay on it for about 40 minutes per session. We are proud to offer a unique news product, made right here in Quebec, that offers a digital alternative for traditional newsrooms.
Describe what a typical day is like for you.
My day will typically start early and finish late because we often spend our evening reading content and making editorial decisions for the next day’s edition. In the span of one work day, we’ll have 10 to 12 meetings, receive over 200 emails and have dozens of text to read. That does not even account for the unforeseen issues and emergencies that inevitably crop up at any given time. Let’s just say that a day in the life of an editor-in-chief is never a walk in the park.
How has social media changed the way journalism is done at La Presse?
We use social media similarly to how we use newswires; to make contact with our sources. We also use it to market our content. It has become an essential tool for journalists, but I believe that no social media platform will ever replace a real newsroom.
Any advice for PR professionals?
Don’t send the same email to 250 journalists all at once; most will likely end up in the trash folder. Be more effective by making your pitches more personal. I also find myself reading news releases that aren’t succinct and don’t contain a clear lead. Releases like that are uninformative and therefore useless to our team.
Is there a media myth you would like to debunk?
I strongly recommend that people watch the movie Spotlight. It shows all of the passion, enthusiasm and values that are at the core of journalism. I dream that La Presse might discover a scandal of that scope and thereby enable society to improve upon itself. However, this is not what happens every day in newsrooms and I hope that those outside of the media industry understand that.
What is the biggest lesson you have learned?
In recent years, I’ve seen groups of people successfully adapt to the most spectacular (or terrible) changes despite strong resistance from certain individuals. When you want change to occur, it must start with your leaders. As La Presse started moving from print to tablet format, our journalists have remained exemplary throughout. However, I still meet with many newsroom managers who are afraid to adapt to digital publishing because they are convinced that their journalists will disagree and resist. My lesson for them? Stop being afraid of your journalists; they want to find a solution to these problems just as much as you do.
What is the first site you visit in the morning?
La Presse+ first, then I look at other Montreal and Toronto news in PDF format. For the rest of the world, I go to Twitter.
Coffee, beer, green juice?
All three, preferably mixed together!