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Québec’s 20 most trusted individuals: 4th and 5th positions [post 3 of 11] (#258)

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Let’s continue our look at the top 20 of the most trusted people in Québec (ranked by Québécois themselves).

Like anyone who is popular with the people (especially those with high “trust” factors), these are people to watch.

The usual formula is Trust” + media appeal = “soft power”.  Often, people like this can morph into something different with time — with more social, societal or political clout.

#4  Sophie Thibeault

Sophie Thibeault’s ranking in the top 10 (and especially in the top 5) is one of the rankings which surprised me the most.

I would have thought she would have placed lower in the rankings, considering that she is a late-night anchor of a TVA news program which has quite a local focus (which is how I feel about a good deal of TVA’s main channel’s news programming).

I will say upfront that I think Thibeault does an excellent job of reporting on local news — and she has more than 10 years of experience to prove that she is the one who deserves the job.

Her news program, TVA 22h, is broadcast Québec-wide, and caters only to a Québec market (Québec news, for Québec people).  You don’t get the feel it reaches much further than that.  There is very little comprehensive news coverage beyond a 100km radius of Montréal.  And when there is news about matters outside Québec (or even in other regions of Québec), the approach is generally only from the angle of someone living within 100kms of the TVA studies.

Personally, I would have left the top 5 rankings (and even the top 10 rankings) for other people who report on matters which have a broader, worldlier aspect.    But, obviously large swaths of the population disagree with me.  I suppose this goes to show :

  1. The extent to which people care most about what is happening in their immediate backyard (versus events in other jurisdictions), and how much weight they accord to those who cover such issues,
  2. Just how much more attention people will accord to events within a few kilometres of where they live, rather than events a little further down the road.

Caring about your immediate neighbours and their issues of course is a good thing.  It probably is human nature to pay more attention to matters happening immediately around oneself, and yes, people should care about what is happening locally (that is precisely why local news exists).

Following local news is not a bad thing.  But it can be damaging if people do not balance their local news and perspectives with events occurring a little further afield (not caring about others who are a little further away is a bad thing).

I personally have felt that news programs, such as TVA 22h, are part of the reasons why portions of Québec’s population have very little knowledge about what is happening elsewhere in Canada.  It is an interesting topic for conversation.

Likewise, English Canada also has equivalents; those Anglophone “national” news programs which rarely report what Québécois (and even Francophones elsewhere in Canada) are experiencing and living, and which almost completely ignores their points of views.  Thus it’s a door which swings both ways (I find that Global News is a good example of this, and CTV also has a habit of falling into this trap.  Nor is CBC totally immune from it either).

Kind of sad, isn’t it?

That’s why I would not have ranked “overly local” newscasters such as Sophie Thibeault (those whose news programs actually propagate and accentuate the notion of the Two Solitudes), as people who I would “trust” the most.  Would you trust a newscaster who reports that a pot hole in Montréal is more important “national” news than a school bus of children which went over a cliff in British Columbia, or how a new technology has been developed which reduces oil-sand emissions by 20%? (this is a bit of a hyperbole, but I have seen very similar reporting styles on TVA 22h).   I have always had the feeling that such newscasts are only telling “half the story”, or “half-truths”, if you will.  But that’s just my take on things.

Regardless, I can still understand why most people list Sophie Thibeault as one of their most trusted individuals.  She’s the likeable next door neighbour who will tell you, over the fence, what is happening with all the other neighbours in the immediate vicinity (but not necessarily what is happening in the next neighbourhood).

#5 Denis Coderre

I am not at all surprised that the mayor of Montréal, Denis Coderre, has ranked in the top five.   I previously wrote a post on the dynamics of the Denis Coderre / Régis Lebaume duo (the mayors of Montréal & Québec City).

Prior to Denis Coderre arriving on the scene as mayor, Montréal went through two mayoralships which were both marked by corruption (with the first being marked by a water-metre and construction company contract-granting scandal, and the second mayor being outright arrested for corruption in front of television cameras).

Coderre was well known to the public as a 30 year veteran federal politician (Liberal) who had proven his ability to stand apart and to avoid scandal.  He also had a frank “man-of-the-people” style of talking – the type of person you’d want to have a beer with in a bar as you talk about hockey and tell a few jokes.

In light of Montréal’s corruption scandals during the several years prior to Coderre’s arrival, his new style appealed to many people – a breath of fresh air.   Since becoming mayor, Denis Coderre has also become a media celebrity, and is treated as a star as he makes the media rounds from talk show to talk show, and all the events in between.

Since becoming Montréal’s mayor, in November 2013, his honeymoon with the people has never ended … something rare in Québec and Canadian politics.

We’ll continue to look at more of the top 20 in upcoming posts.

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