Behind the screen… with Noémi Mercier | Me and (always) the other

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Biweekly, Press invites artisans from the audiovisual industry to tell us about their work behind the camera. Today we speak with the journalist and presenter Noémi Mercier.

Posted at 9:00 am

Lucas Boulanger

Lucas Boulanger
Press

For a year, Noémi Mercier has been the national presenter of the news The threadMonday to Friday, in Novo. This journalist with a brilliant, award-winning career has touched both on writing (Quebec Sciences, News) and on the radio (ICI Première) and on television (In the media). Subjective discussion behind the scenes of the profession.

A. On March 29, 2021, you jumped into the void in front of the 5 pm news on Noovo. You were making your debut as a daily news anchor while helping to create a new newsroom. A year later, is the pace just as frenetic?

what I have a colleague who likes to say that we run a marathon every day…but at sprint speed! In one of my favorite movies, spread news, there’s this scene where Joan Cusack runs like crazy through the offices with the tape of a report, which she delivers to the studio control room at the last second. The adrenaline rush looks like this famous scene… without VHS tapes [rires]. We are also a very young and small team. Although the CTV group gives us a good hand, we do not have the resources or the means of our competitors.

A. And learning was difficult?

what Learning is constant. Without exaggerating my importance -because it is a team effort- the success of the Phil it depends on the emotional bond that the public develops (or does not develop) with a news anchor. I remember the email from an angry viewer at the end of my first week on the air. I forgot to say good night at the beginning of the show. He found me cold, haughty, with my guests in the study. The message from him made me think… He doesn’t know me. I walk into his living room every day at 5 pm I ask him to listen to me, to trust me, for an hour… without saying hello! Since then, the word “BONSOIR” is written in capital letters in my files.


PHOTO MARTIN CHAMBERLAND, THE PRESS

According to Noémi Mercier, a journalist must always meet the other. “You don’t do journalism to confirm what you already think. »

A. At 45, you are (almost) the oldest member of your team. Are you missing people with writing experience?

what For me, age and experience don’t necessarily go together. Most of my colleagues are in their early thirties and extremely competent! They know that we will use their full potential. Yes, we are a young room and we all have things to learn. But age is no guarantee of talent or profession.

R. Has Noovo given itself a different mandate than other newsrooms in the country? That’s the impression we get from seeing you, both in the tone on the air and in the choice of topics.

what If we try to imitate the big newsrooms, we will seem “cheap”. So we have to do things differently. We set ourselves the goal of “personalizing” the presentation of the news. We do not want to hide the personality of the journalist to mechanically tell the stories. That doesn’t mean showing our mood on air. Only to feel that he is a human being, not a robot, who breaks the news.

R. Some will say that it is moving away from journalistic objectivity, from the duty of confidentiality…

what Instead of “objectivity”, I prefer the word “neutrality”, or “accuracy”, or to speak of a balance of points of view. I come from magazine journalism. An environment less dominated by this orthodoxy. In magazines we want to feel the gaze of the journalist through the coverage of a topic.

A. The public is increasingly suspicious of the media in Quebec and elsewhere. Don’t you risk having even less confidence in the reporter if he is subjective?

what On the contrary, he will approach the public exposing his point of view. Is the public less informed because a journalist displays his subjectivity? I don’t think so, because subjectivity can complete or even enrich the information. Again, that doesn’t mean talking about yourself. The journalist must always go to meet the other. You don’t do journalism to confirm what you already think.

A. At the beginning of my career, in 1990, I was very interested in the issues of the gay community. However, colleagues told me to pay attention to the labels, to cover other topics. Today I have the impression that a young journalist will not refrain from covering issues that concern him directly.

what Luckily things have changed! There is no point in saying that! Does a heterosexual refrain from touching on issues that affect middle-class families who have a house in the suburbs? We all approach an issue from a perspective shaped by our life experience. To a majority white man, it can seem “woke” to talk about racism. But if you have a different skin color, a foreign accent, that’s normal. This is why we need a diversity of perspectives in the media.

A. A few days ago, you won a Dynasty Award for Black Excellence in Media, in the category of television presenter of the year. We have come a long way in four or five years. There is still much to be done?

what It is important, the recognition, the diversity and the visibility of minorities on the screen. It’s great to inform and make people aware of the phenomenon of racism. But the next step, the key to change, is to invite people of diversity to talk about more than just the color of their skin. You have to get into the collective imagination that a Quebecois can look like a bunch of businesses, with different colors and accents. I was born here, half Haitian. My mother came to Quebec in 1965. However, there are still people who ask me where I come from.

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