Is the CMG even paying attention?

Regular readers of the Tea Makers are aware that it was part of a larger wave of blogging during the 2005 CBC Lockout, when CBC blogs were the new porn. And if Tod Maffin was its Hugh Hefner, I was probably its Bob Guccione.

I learned a very important lesson about blogging during that time. It doesn’t matter if only one person is reading your blog. If that person is the right person, it can change everything.

It doesn’t matter if you don’t read blogs. What matters is that your neighbour does. Or your boss does. Or your MP does. Or the person who advises your MP overhears your neighbour repeating an idea they read in a blog, and it influences a decision he makes that day.

And I know because I’ve seen it happen.

And here’s what the CBC learned: if you don’t tell your own story in a timely manner, someone else will. And chances are you won’t like what they have to say.

When the lockout ended, I was shocked that the back-to-work protocol asked that all “negative references” in blogs should be taken down.

At the time, Dan Oldfield did a fair bit of flip-floppery. He couldn’t tell members to take down blogs, he said, but they should probably do it anyways. In other words: don’t bug me about it. Let’s get back to work. I don’t blame him, really.

Personally I thought that if the blogs were important enough during the lockout, they were important enough after. For suggesting this, I was summarily roasted.

And despite Dan Olfield’s hopes that some of these blogs would stay alive and continue to generate discussion and keep pertinent issues in the spotlight, most didn’t. There are many reasons for this, but part of it was that bloggers weren’t given any real encouragement to continue.

And let’s face it: we were all tired, and pretty sick of blogs and the CBC. I know I was.

Flash forward to May 2006 and to Blayne Paige, the winner of the CMG’s 2005 Meritorious Service Award (pdf only, so check out page 10). He was on the Ottawa picket line in Sept 2005 when the evil Richard Stursberg tried to cross.

Without any thought to his personal safety, he bravely cried: “Tighten the line!” and thusly the Stursberg was defeated, fleeing the scene and bumping his head in the process.

A grand old story. For the 20th century.

But as I remember it, the CBC Drone figuratively kicked Richard Stursberg in the metaphorical balls every day for weeks on end. When he got tired of that, he moved on to the rest of Senior Management, and then me. And then he did the TBC security guards for good measure.

I found the CBC Drone’s blog full of lies, purposely misleading, badly written, a satire of itself, and boring as hell. But what do I know? Thousands read him every day, and were inspired by him in a real way.

It would have been a bold thing for the CMG to give the CBC Drone that Meritorious Service Award. I mean, he was Larry Flynt, after all.

I’ve been thinking of these things this week since I read Antonia Zerbisias’ article in the Star about how the media fails to report on labour issues. And she’s right. But ironically enough, last year the CMG was way ahead of itself on this, and the blogs its members had created did a lot towards circumventing the conventional media, getting their stories out out to the public, and bringing the media back to labour stories and causes, this time on their own terms.

Antonia mentions in her follow-up that the CMG will award $2000 for labour reporting in Canada, which will probably have no submissions. I would apply for it myself, but blogs aren’t eligible.

I’m not sure what impact this gift will possibly have. Are they hoping to convince journalists to write favourably about the CMG? I hope not, and I doubt it. Is it just a thank-you to a labour journalist? Maybe. Will it encourage more better labour journalism? I doubt it.

Plus, the whole thing sounds shady.

It seems crazy to me that the CMG wouldn’t take advantage of the not-so-latent talent pool that is their membership to get these issues out into the open and the public sphere.

Why wouldn’t they encourage them, support them, and even pay them?

So here’s my advice to the CMG: split your $2000 between 2 or 3 or 4 CMG bloggers, and tell them to write once a week about CMG issues that matter to them, their jobs, or their families. Make them adhere to the CBC’s Journalistic Standards and Practices, get them to tell the truth, and stand behind them no matter what they say, even if it is against the union itself.

They’ll be happy for the extra money, and I guarantee your issues will disseminate wider and farther and healthier than you ever imagined.

Tighten the line, indeed.


  1. Dwight
    Posted June 10, 2006 at 5:35 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    As scared (or not) as the CMG may be of blogging, I’d say they ended up benefitting big time from the practice if only in PR terms. Which can, occasionally, be enough to turn a given tide.

  2. Anonymous
    Posted June 9, 2006 at 12:18 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    Maybe both sides were just a little afraid of what blogging represented? CBC Management certainly lost control of the entire situation in a hurry, but the CMG almost did too…a labour negotiation, or any political fight taken entirely out of the hands of the powers that be and placed in the courtroom of the general public is always a dangerous thing – sadly for CMG, CBC, Parliament, and all of the other traditional deciders of such things, the Genie is out of the bottle. It was out of the bottle before the lockout really, CBC and CMG had just never really had to deal with the Genie before.

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