My Media Day: Steven Ladurantaye, head of news and current affairs at STV

STEVEN Ladurantaye is head of news and current affairs at STV.

He joined STV from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) where he was managing editor, responsible for the journalism and newsroom operations of Canada’s largest public service broadcast news service.

He submitted this on February 21 2019…

What exactly do you do?

I’m the head of news and current affairs at STV. It’s a fairly wide-ranging job that straddles everything that we do as a newsroom, from story planning to what ends up on television screens and mobile devices once those stories are created. The nice thing about a news operations such as ours is that it’s big enough to do big, ambition things but also small enough that I can be hands on and work closely with everyone on the team.

What did your working day yesterday comprise?

I’ve spent the last week in two of our more Northern offices, which are in Dundee and Aberdeen. The days are fairly similar at this point and not that different from the other management jobs I’ve had.

I like to wake up early and read all the local papers (while watching our current affairs programme, Scotland Tonight on catch-up because I usually fall asleep too early to watch).

I try to flip through five or six each morning to get a sense of the news agenda. Then I check social feeds for a half hour or so and reply to anyone who has sent us a message.

I usually join our morning news meeting via video and then walk to the office afterward, where it’s an assortment of management meetings with the wider STV team and news meetings with my team.

I also try to find as much time as possible talking to reporters and producers about what they’re working on so I can help make it easier for them if possible. As it gets later, I’ll read scripts and watch video before retiring into the control room (oops, gallery) to watch the show, live.

Then I’ll watch our other six o’clock shows on catch-up before heading home and starting all over again.

How different or similar is your average working day to when you started?

I’ve only been here for three months. It’s changed a fair bit as I’ve learned more about how our newsroom works and developed relationships with everyone on our team. The earliest days were all about getting to know people, and that’s always a weird process as everyone is on their best behaviour and trying to figure me out. Now that we all know each other a bit better, it’s made the conversations more interesting and opened up all kinds of new opportunities for everyone.

How do you see your job evolving?

It’s almost impossible to imagine what the newsroom will look like six months from now, let alone five years, because the pace of change is so fast.

It’s important for any news manager to understand these changes and try to future-proof their newsroom as much as possible, and that means keeping an open mind about evolution and trying to balance the needs of current audiences with future audiences.

That’s not much of an answer – but it’s absolutely honest to say the most important parts of managing that change is being open to new opportunities, listening to the newsroom to make sure everyone is aligned and along for the voyage, and having the nerve to try new things. If the manager isn’t willing to stare down change and learn new skills to help cope with those changes, he can’t expect anyone else in the newsroom to jump on board.

What gives you the most job satisfaction?

I’m still a reporter at heart. Managing a newsroom is amazing because it lets you have your hands on every story, instead of just the one you would have been working on if you were still a reporter. Talking to a reporter about an idea, figuring out interesting ways to tell that story, finding them the time and space to get the story done properly, checking in and seeing how it’s going, working on the writing with them, seeing the final version.

That’s the heart of what we do, so I try to spend as much time as possible meddling in the lives of my reporters.