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A passion for the media

Flo­rent Latrive grad­u­at­ed from UTC major­ing in Com­put­er Sci­ence Engi­neer­ing in 1995 but nev­er in fact worked as an engi­neer. With a dri­ving pas­sion for the press and the impact of tech­nol­o­gy on Soci­ety, he is Edi­to­r­i­al Direc­tor of dig­i­tal jour­nal­ism at France Cul­ture and asso­ciate lec­tur­er in dig­i­tal jour­nal­ism at the French Press Insti­tute (Uni­ver­si­ty of Paris 2 Pan­théon-Assas). Here Inter­ac­tions offers a por­trait of a man whose pas­sion for the media has allowed him to open many hard-locked doors. 

How did he acquire his pas­sion for the media? He already cul­ti­vat­ed it dur­ing his years at UTC, which he joined for “mod­u­lar­i­ty of the cours­es taught there and their diver­si­ty, in par­tic­u­lar the part of human sci­ences which was in the pro­gramme such as phi­los­o­phy with Bernard Stiegler or ethics. What was excit­ing, he found, was that, what­ev­er the course, the teach­ing phi­los­o­phy at UTC was to encour­age us to reflect on what we were doing, what we were learn­ing, on the pro­fes­sion in gen­er­al and on the impact of tech­nolo­gies on soci­ety in par­tic­u­lar. As an avid read­er of the press, I was par­tic­u­lar­ly inter­est­ed in this last aspect,” he says.

How did he get into the media cir­cles? When I returned from my end-of-study intern­ship in Hun­gary, I was won­der­ing, like any oth­er young grad­u­ate, what I want­ed to do. That’s when I met the Edi­tor-in-Chief of Oise Heb­do, one of whose jour­nal­ists had just bro­ken a leg and who was look­ing for a replace­ment to report on a jubilee wed­ding cel­e­bra­tion cer­e­mo­ny in a small vil­lage not far from Com­piègne. And that was a rev­e­la­tion. I enjoyed it somuch that I said to myself: “This is what I want to do. It became obvi­ous to me, and I have become pas­sion­ate about the press,” explains Flo­rent Latrive.

After a few months at Oise Heb­do, Paris beck­oned, so to speak. “With my back­ground in com­put­er sci­ence and a mas­tery of new tech­nolo­gies, I set out to exploit them as a jour­nal­ist. But in the sec­ond half of the 1990s, the Inter­net began to take off for the gen­er­al pub­lic, and the arrival of mobile phones raised a num­ber of ques­tions. Ques­tions of reg­u­la­tion, ques­tions of use, soci­etal ques­tions, polit­i­cal ques­tions, all things that fas­ci­nat­ed me,” he says.

In Paris, he opt­ed for the news­pa­per Libéra­tion [bet­ter­known as “Libé”] which already had an eight-page week­ly mul­ti­me­dia sec­tion that dealt with these issues. “They took me on a fixed-term con­tract and I worked on var­i­ous sub­jects such as wolf hunt­ing and sud­den infant death syn­drome. Sub­jects that are far removed from tech­nol­o­gy. But for Libé, not hav­ing grad­u­at­ed from a jour­nal­ism school, it was a way of test­ing me, of shak­ing me in all direc­tions by putting me in com­pe­ti­tion with young jour­nal­ism school grad­u­ates. At the end of this fixed-term con­tract, I signed a long-term con­tract fol­lowed by a per­ma­nent con­tract. I held var­i­ous posi­tions here but I have always been inter­est­ed in sci­ence, tech­nol­o­gy and their impact on Soci­ety; the rise of the Inter­net and the ques­tions of gov­er­nance it rais­es, those of copy­right and intel­lec­tu­al prop­er­ty. I have writ­ten books on all these var­ied issues,” he says. He worked with Libé for almost twen­ty years, includ­ing sev­en years, from2007, as Edi­tor-in-Chief of the paper’s web­site. “I accom­pa­nied the dig­i­tal trans­for­ma­tion of the news­pa­per and cre­at­ed, for exam­ple, “Libé Labo”, the audio and video work­shop of Libéra­tion. Back in 2007, we were already doing what seemed avant-garde at the time, pod­cast­sand video for­mats,” explains Flo­rent Latrive.

In 2014, he took advan­tage of a staff redun­dan­cy plan to explore oth­er hori­zons and it turned out to be France Cul­ture. Among the rea­sons for this career choice? “France Cul­ture was a response to some­thing that has always moti­vat­ed me: the ques­tion of trans­mis­sion. It is a medi­um that relies heav­i­ly on knowl­edge and know how. It is a medi­um of long time. Its block­busters are pro­grammes on phi­los­o­phy or the his­to­ry of sci­ence that last an hour. Last­ly, it comes at a time when dig­i­tal trans­for­ma­tion is at the heart of the pro­fes­sion and I was very keen to accom­pa­ny this process. I must have been con­vinc­ing because I was tak­en on and I am still there,“he concludes. 

Le magazine

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