The Confessional: Pierre Nadeau
There are journalists and then there’s Pierre Nadeau. A reference in the world of media not only in his native Québec but also beyond its borders, Pierre Nadeau got all the exclusive interviews and spoke the language of Molière in a way that is today too seldom heard. The man who had the looks of a model but decided to charm us with his brains, enters The Confessional.
You’ve spent your life asking the tough questions. The tables are now turned. How did you prepare for The Confessional?
I did not prepare, just sat down and waited for your first question.
In 1978, you interviewed a 23-year old Jean-Claude Duvalier. What were your impressions of the then young President of Haiti?
Of course, the next time I met him for an interview, 8 years after, he was more self-assured, but once again, off track in his answers.
A few months ago, Ted Koppel wrote a scathing op-ed in the Washington Post on the death of real news. Was he too tough or not enough?
Koppel is indeed a good journalist. Basically, his way of doing things remains excellent. Nowadays, because of technology, real news ( ? ) is live news. The pundits set (sat?) back and on come the new messengers ” à la Andersen Cooper”.
The satellite has replaced the typewriter.
Much to my chagrin, you’re not on Twitter. So many of us miss you and would be hanging on your every tweets. What would it take to make you tweet and how do you feel about social media?
Frankly, I am not very impressed by what I have seen so far in the tweeting world. The obligation to hold comments at 140 letters seems to me like being more of an exclamation than a reflexion. Even if I don’t use them, I enjoy surfing on Facebook and Twitter and admit to the relevant part played by social media in the uprising in Tunisia and Egypt.
What are your top 3 news sources?
CNN (International and US)
Le Nouvel Observateur and France 2
Radio-Canada (radio and tv)
Who are 3 young/younger journalists whose careers we need to follow closely?
Michèle Ouimet (La Presse)
Jean-François Bélanger (Radio-Canada)
ABC’s Nightline has changed its format: it’s now just 30 minutes and they do 2 stories per show one of which is almost always about pop culture. It’s asymptomatic of an Industry that feels that for every story on Gaza, there must be one on Lady Gaga. Has the media Industry let us down or is it the other way around?
The industry’s mandate being to boost the ratings, news casts contain items that are not to be considered as so called ” serious” information. It has always been the case. When I started as a journalist, over 50 years ago, a newscast was described as a series of disasters ending with a fashion show. There has always been a Lady Gaga.
Journalists are Rock Stars with notepads and as such, I’ve always been weary of falling in love with them. Do journalists make good mates? If so, why?
Certainly, there are not very many trades that make pick-ups that easy. Let’s say that the perception of adventure make contacts easy. Family life suffers, that’s for sure.
If you could cover a current story of your choice, what would it be?
The awakening of generations of young people demonstrating their goals, mainly the establishment of democracy in the Arab world, middle east or Maghreb.
What contemporary world leader, newsmaker or artist would you like to interview and what would be the two first questions you would ask?
The world leader I would have loved to meet one on one is Charles de Gaulle. I have had the occasion to report on his official trips in Poland and Cambodia. But there was no interview to be done there, on these occasions. In fact, de Gaulle never gave more than one interview each year, always to the same journalist, Michel Droit totally submissive to the General. First question I would have asked him: Why is it that before today you have never accepted being interviewed? Second question: When exactly did you decide to give your support to the Quebec sovereignists?
I have a fear that one day, CBS’s 60 Minutes & PBS’s Frontline will be cancelled. These shows are my television compass. What are yours?
The one hour CNN show hosted by the best anchor on television : Fareed Zakarias and also Envoyé spécial, a weekly news show on France 2
If God/Allah/Buddha has an i-Pod, what music is in it?
Violin concerto by Max Bruch.
What is the book you have read again, and again and again?
The jungle book by Rudyard Kipling
Describe your perfect day.
There is no such a thing as a perfect day. But a good day for me is being at the country, with my family, being outside practicing sports in the fresh air, cooking good food and close to favourite books.
What do you know for sure about life?
We don’t have much control on our lives and things, good or bad, happen by themselves. There isn’t much you can do about it
When will I see you next?
Anywhere and hopefully not in the obituaries
In 1977, Pierre Nadeau interviewed a young Jean-Claude Duvalier, in Port-au-Prince.