The kindest journalist

I arrived at the France Television office building earlier than expected, at 8:10. After explaining to the security guards in my poor French that I was here for a "rendezvous," I sat in the waiting area of the steel lobby, watching the six television screens above the front desk.  I was overjoyed with the opportunity to visit the sets of France's most watched news channel and meet the people who make the program possible. 


It was 8:20. 


I was pretty sure Anne-Marie, the journalist who invited me to the set just one hour after meeting me the day before, told me to arrive at 8:15. I could have been mistaken, she may have said 8:50. After all, just the other day, Nicolas asked me to boil noodles for 13 minutes for our creamy pasta dinner, but I thought he said 30 minutes. Thankfully, he caught my mistake in the nick of time, and our Italian meal was saved. 


It was 9:00. I was nervous she had stood me up or had simply forgotten about our meeting. I called her a couple of times, but to no avail. The thing is that I know New York journalists and have worked with broadcast companies in New York, but I have no connections whatsoever in Paris. This was the time for me to really jump out of what feels natural to me and connect with people whose language I do not know. Why would anyone want to hire a non-French speaking girl from Hong Kong? 


Then, at 9:15 on the dot, Anne-Marie strolled in with a warm smile and a "Ca va?" She told me she went out for late night drinks with her friend the previous night and forgot her keys to her apartment, with her husband fast asleep. She slept over her friend's place, with hardly a wink of sleep.


Nevertheless, she enthusiastically introduced me to the entire Tele Matin team, including Sophie Davant. As hair and makeup were underway for the journalists, I met the producer of the show as well as the director. 40 minutes later, Anne-Marie, with fresh makeup and blow dried hair, ran to the set where the morning show began. The set was pink and bright. I was able to watch behind the camera, as the host Davant and her four colleagues, including the beautiful Anne-Marie, would introduce different human interest topics for the early risers. Anne-Marie's segment focused on a beauty transformation, the before and after of an average citizen. The show was live, and despite her lack of sleep, Anne-Marie spoke vibrantly. Whenever the video footage would air, Anne-Marie would steal a glance and smile at me. 


The very last segment of the show was a cooking demonstration. I watched as all the journalists, including Hollywood guest Leslie Caron, gathered around the chef as he explained how to make a sort of crab salad dish. Afterwards, as the journalists dug their forks into the final mayonnaise creation, Anne-Marie motioned me to try some too. With her own fork, she fed me. 


Afterwards, she showed me her office and gave me permission to return for the 1:30pm recording of Toute Une Histoire. The set was grand, with sliding screen doors, rows and rows of shelves for books, and of course, a live audience. I was overwhelmed with the kindness and extreme generosity everyone showed me. I saw the sound editing room, the color correction room, and the broadcast control room. One girl, named Charlotte, was recording backstage video and asked me if I wanted to come with her to shoot footage. I said yes.


Overall, it was such a tremendous honor to be invited to the news station, just because I was in the right place at the right time, with the right people. I think Anne-Marie was willing to help me as a foreign journalist student eager to learn and see more. 


Afterwards, Anne-Marie hurriedly asked me to call her in August, so that we could grab coffee. She said she had to run for an interview for ELLE Magazine for a book she wrote.


30.

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