LaFlamme shares experiences
“Sleep is something you’ll get when you’re dead,” said CTV National News chief anchor Lisa LaFlamme, speaking on the lifestyle of a journalist.
Discussing the challenges of her career and the memorable stories she has covered, LaFlamme shared with an audience of Wilfrid Laurier University alumni, faculty and students her path from being a Kitchener-Waterloo-based reporter to a national news anchor.
The Nov. 25 event, ‘A Conversation with Lisa LaFlamme: The Year in Headlines,’ was hosted by Laurier Alumni and the political science department. Patricia Goff, associate professor of political science at Laurier, took the stage with LaFlamme asking her questions about the latest events she has reported on, including the Arab Spring and royal wedding.
Recounting her experience of reporting from Afghanistan, LaFlamme said, “I was literally living like a soldier.”
Stationed with a group of Canadian troops, LaFlamme reported in the war-torn country in the late 2000s.
“I’m not in shape at all,” she admitted, continuing, “But man when you’re climbing a mountain, you want to collapse.”
Speaking about the difficulty of carrying equipment in sweltering conditions, and sharing an anecdote of having to give up on wearing a helmet for a more comfortable but attention-grabbing blue bandana, LaFlamme said of the soldiers she accompanied, “They’ve certainly saved my life many times.”
With the added issue of survival, reporting in such conditions was challenging. “I knew nine guys that were killed,” LaFlamme said.
On covering the more recent Arab Spring, LaFlamme noted that technology and social media had a roll in “getting a revolutionary movement off the ground.” She said that this has also helped get access to footage in countries such as Syria, which journalists have struggled to get into, however the validity of such footage presents new challenges.
The effects of technology on reporting are obvious in the pressure of having a 24-hour news cycle. “I think the biggest difference is the immediacy, and you’re always connected,” said LaFlamme. “When I started as a reporter in this city, there was no cell phone, there was no e-mail.”
LaFlamme did admit that having a BlackBerry and being constantly connected has made her life better. “I cannot stand not knowing what’s happening … I’m way more relaxed when I know what’s going on in the world,” she said, admitting that was the case even while on vacation.
Looking towards the future of the media industry, LaFlamme acknowledge the decline being faced by news organizations. “Our ratings are strong, people are still looking at conventional media,” she said, adding, “Where do we fit into the online news?”
“We have to figure out how to get 20-somethings reading papers, watching television,” she explained of the issue, acknowledging that youth turn to the web before other forms of media.
However, with the overwhelming amount of information available online, LaFlamme remained optimistic that the public would continue to turn to conventional media for the accuracy it provides.
“If we’re coming into your homes, I don’t want to be imposing. I want [the news] to be digestible and informative.”
When asked what she would like to be known as in her new role as chief anchor, following her predecessor, Canada’s “most trusted anchor,” Lloyd Robinson, she said, “I think any journalist wants that credibility or that trust.”
“I like to think I’m trusted.”