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A weekend well spent at the FPJQ conference

By Valérie-Micaela Bain

I had the opportunity to attend the conference of the Quebec Federation of Professional Journalists last November thanks to a Guild lottery. It was my first time at the conference and I went without any particular expectations. From the first day, I was delighted with the quality and diversity of the workshops and the choice of trainers. It was even hard to choose sometimes between two workshops held at the same time. It was a nice problem to have! I also appreciated benefiting from the experience of established journalists. I left each workshop with the satisfaction of having learned concrete things I can apply to my everyday work. In fact, the training and discussion workshops reminded me of the importance of professional development.

The Saturday workshops were very animated, keeping people engaged right to the end. The discussion about the “feminization of news” seemed to get the attention of everyone in the room. The thought that stuck with me is that maybe we are mistaken in blaming women for the choice of topics covered in the media. Is it perhaps more of an issue of the gentrification of news, and therefore question of class rather than the battle of the sexes? Let the debate begin…

The workshop “Federal elections: do we need to keep playing the game?” was one of the nicest surprises of the conference. William Stairs, Stephen Harper’s former communications director, gave a candid explanation of the Conservative party’s philosophy on dealing with the media. Stairs no longer works for the Prime Minister but his experience and knowledge of politics stands. Journalists are often critical of the Harper government’s attitude toward the media; the prime minister only answers a few questions per day and rarely strays from the official message track. It makes it more difficult to hold the government to account. Stairs helped us better understand the Prime Minister’s motivations. That doesn’t mean we left the session approving the governing party’s approach, but at least I think the majority of us had the satisfaction of hearing the answers to all of the questions that were asked.

All in all, I enjoyed a jam-packed weekend!

Thanks again to the Guild for covering the registration and transportation costs and to Radio-Canada Manitoba for paying for my accommodation and per diems.

Valérie-Micaela Bain works for Radio-Canada in Winnipeg.

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