Debra Arbec has been a news anchor at CTV Montreal for almost nine years. Additionally, she produces “My Montreal”, a weekly segment about the diversity of Montrealers. Arbec sits down with The Concordian to discuss life as a CTV journalist.
Before beginning your television career, what did you study and how did you end up at CTV?
Well, I was in sciences in Vanier College in CEGEP. I had the plan of becoming a doctor – I love science, but I hated math. That was the only problem. But then I took an elective, a humanities course, and then a creative arts course in documentary film and I absolutely fell in love with it. I just loved it. I loved the medium, I loved being able to tell somebody’s story.
I never had any great dreams of becoming a journalist all through high school or the first part of CEGEP. It was just after taking this documentary course, that I thought, ‘Wow, this is something that’s really powerful.’ So I switched out of sciences, much to the regret of my chemistry teacher who said ‘You’ll never make it! It’s not a good decision.’
So I went into creative arts and I studied photography and film and then went to Concordia. But I didn’t start out in broadcast; I started out in political science. I thought it was important to have a background in [politics before going into] journalism. I really wasn’t that familiar with what programs were out there and what I needed to do. I wasn’t sure. Was I going to be a journalist, was I going to do documentaries ? I knew I was going to tell stories, but I wasn’t sure how. I was always interested in politics, so I started out there.
I did switch over, finally, to broadcast journalism at Concordia and graduated in that. Then I thought that I would get out into the world and start doing journalism and I found myself working in a clothing store. After I graduated, I couldn’t get a job! I realized then, that it’s really important while you’re in the journalism program to do as many internships as possib le – I had done a few, but probably not enough – and to get working.
Was it more difficult for women than for men at that time?
I can’t say it was a male-female thing. It was just that you get out of school and you just don’t know what to do. What do you start to do? Sending out r