As soon as our producer confirmed we had booked Malcolm Gladwell for the show, I felt excited. And nervous. I've loved the author for years, and have always fancied his unassumed coolness and, of course, his brain. Smart is sexy.
As Isabelle and I were prepping for our conversation with him, I knew I had to ask him about the state of media today. As a publicist, I've witnessed a change in the industry. A change that has at times been for the better and, at times, for the worse. But I remain a news junkie - an addiction I've had since sneaking out of bed when I was around 8 years old to watch Radio-Canada's Le Téléjournal, with Bernard Derome. And as a junkie, I need my drug. I like it pure, undiluted and straight from the dealer.
Malcolm Gladwell's alma mater is The Washington Post. He joined the illustrious newspaper at the age of 23 - his first non-freelance gig. The WaPo has known a sort of resurgence since Donald Trump's election. "Democracy dies in darkness" is the newspaper's new motto.
Democracy does die in darkness, you know. I'm of Haitian origin and I know this too well.
Haiti's history is full of journalists who were silenced. The tactics used there were extreme: murder and imprisonment. Trump has preferred to use Twitter to attack his critics - what some have called a form of cyberbullying and character assassination.
"What do you think of the state of journalism today?" I asked Gladwell.
"This is the golden age of journalism," he replied.
His response made me feel relieved, excited and hopeful. In the United States, the news media is under attack by its commander-in-chief. This situation is not foreign to journalists reporting in politically challenging areas all over the world. The news is also being challenged by an economic model that no longer pleases investors.
But the news business shouldn't be about profits. Rather than a business, it's an essential service. Just like public transportation. When's the last time the Société de transport de Montréal made a profit? Still, we continue to build metro cars, because we need to. Were we to stop, we'd regress. Same for the news.
And lest we forget, print can and should coexist with digital: it shouldn't be one or the other. Local and international news coverage matters, regardless of where you live.
This is the golden age of journalism. Gladwell said so.