Editor’s note: In an ongoing series, INMA is profiling our most engaged members — our super fans. At a time when we have less face-to-face time, we hope this gives members a chance to learn more about each other. Today we profile Brian Myles, editor for Le Devoir in Montréal, Québec.
Brian Myles, editor for Le Devoir in Montréal, Canada, doesn’t see any reason for media companies to have to choose between a print and digital audience: “As long as you rely on paying and loyal subscribers, you are in business,” he said. “We appeal to both audiences.”
Le Devoir has more digital subscribers than print ones, and the digital format allows for more personalisation: “We propose different formats to the tailored needs of our readers. Le Devoir reaches out to educated citizens of all ages across print and digital products.”
When he isn’t thinking about new ways to connect with readers, Myles enjoys binge-watching movies or TV series, watching live performances (particularly theater, jazz, and blues), baking, and doing home improvement projects.
“Working with your hands frees your mind on a different level,” he said.
INMA caught up with Myles recently to learn more about him.
INMA: What big lesson have you learned over the past couple of years that helped shape your plans for 2022?
Myles: Planning in a time of crisis requires a willingness in an organisation to set aside any plan and start anew. Managing through a pandemic is akin to building a plane while it’s flying. There is no better assessment of our collective agility and resilience. Over the last two years, our strengths and weaknesses were bluntly exposed for all to see. Our employees and their families faced unprecedented hurdles in their personal and professional lives, but from the reader’s point of view, everything seemed normal.
Le Devoir’s team delivered the news with a renewed sense of purpose and dedication. We had to forgo certain initiatives, yet at the same time, we found an extra added velocity to tackle transformative projects.
INMA: If you had your career to do over again, what would you want to know in the beginning?
Myles: I wish I would’ve taken more risks and diversified as a reporter in broadcast news, for instance, instead of working the same beat for years in a daily newspaper.
INMA: What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned in your career?
Myles: There are only a few geniuses out there, and even they make mistakes from time to time. Most editors don’t have definitive answers about the future of the news industry, yet they are doing their best to survive and thrive in a digital environment with impressive results. I’m no genius, so I decided in the early stages of my tenure that we would “go down swinging” and take some risks to speed up our digital transformation. You don’t need the perfect plan to succeed.
A sense of purpose, a mission statement, and a strong bond with your readers and employees will get you moving in the right direction. I’ve also learned to live with the uncertainties of success. It’s not guaranteed, it’s certainly not yours alone, and you cannot rest on your laurels for long.
That is why I remind my team to extravagantly celebrate our successes and instantly forget our failures. In moments of discouragement, I will also remind them that the journey is more important than the destination.
INMA: If you hadn’t gone into news media, what was your back-up plan?
Myles: I almost applied for filmmaking in college, and I was also tempted to pursue a career in teaching or law. Curiously enough, I went on to cover justice issues and the movie industry in my career as a journalist, and I also held a part-time position as an associate teacher in journalism.
INMA: What is your favourite thing to read?
Myles: Everything relating to news but especially long-form journalism. I’ve been a long-time subscriber to The New Yorker, a net provider of traveling experiences while I commute to work. I dig into Foreign Affairs and the Harvard Business Review from time to time. When I want to relax, I delve into crime fiction of all eras or classics of literature, whether in French or English. Occasionally, I go back to my oldest “literary pals,” the comic books.