Information wants to be free

No one loves free information more than I, but I have a bad track record.

I linked to a funny video featuring a lip-synched Robert Rabinovitch, and the House of Commons ordered it taken down. I linked to a Dragon’s Den blogger and he was fired. I linked to an interview with Strombo and it was not only removed, but a fatwa was issued by the Stroumboulopouli and it made the National Post.

I guess all this could be coincidental. Maybe it’s just my overactive imagination.

Lately it seems that whenever I post something about the inner workings of the CBC, it’s quickly followed by a Net Pub Eng. I write about CRAP, Stursberg sends out a note about PARC. I write about changes at CBC.ca, Billinger sends out an explanation. I post some artists’ drawings of the TBC renovations, Real Estate assures everyone that all is going according to plan.

It’s not my expressed purpose to give CBC executives heart attacks, although it’s an amusing side effect.

I’ve always wondered if this blog could ever make any real changes, but these are not the kind of changes I was aiming for. You think I can get Rabinovich fired? I make work for little functionaries. I don’t know if they should curse me or thank me.

The CBC is not a place that takes to openness naturally. The instinct of a CBC journalist is to protect his or her story until they are damn good and ready. And so, the CBC reacts to harmless “leaks” with what can only be described as knee jerks, both literal and figurative.

Nearly a month ago, the President sent everyone an email telling us that the CBC will soon be subject to access to information requests. The email caused a bit of panic and everyone had 1000 questions.

What does it mean? Does it start from September, or is it retroactive? What about all the stuff I already threw out? Can the post-it notes on my computer monitor be subpoenaed? What about phone calls? Groupwise purged my emails. Am I going to be in trouble?

The answers to these questions were supposed to follow, but they never followed.

Perhaps the information is classified?

The CBC is not a place that can answer questions quickly. Sometimes the person who can answer is right in front of you. If not, we’ll have to find her. Maybe she retired? Maybe she’s on secondment. Maybe she’s in a meeting. Maybe she’s on vacation. Did she keep her emails? Her notes? Remember that meeting we had about the thing, 13 years ago?

And so, if you plan on filing an access to information request about the CBC, please be patient.

You hear that sound?

That’s the sharpening of knives and the grinding of axes.

God only knows what they’ll be looking for, but I hope they find it.

I’d like to see it myself.

9 comments:

  1. Anonymous
    Posted July 14, 2007 at 6:46 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    Allan is so famous, he’s everywhere, does he have a Wikipedia entry yet?

  2. Ouimet
    Posted July 7, 2007 at 6:51 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    Barbara, we did make peace, I was referring to writers/readers of your blog who come here to poke Allan.

    Allan can look after himself, and these people are welcome here any time, just like anyone else. But you can’t tell me they don’t hold some sort of grudge, which is why I likened it to a fatwa.

    Also, thanks to Mr. Payan’s link, I see that there will indeed be a charge for these searches.

    Mr. Payan, I hope some people take you up on your offer and email you some questions. There’s a lot of confusion surrounding the issue.

  3. Anonymous
    Posted July 5, 2007 at 2:24 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    Someone should use Access to Information to find out how much the CBC pays to consultants, like Magid, every year and then compare that to the actual broadcasting budgets. Then we could see how much more the budgets could get if there were no consultants.

    They might also check who owns some of those consulting companies and if any have a closer than arm’s length relationship with CBC executives.
    I am not making accusations, I am just curious.

  4. D.
    Posted July 5, 2007 at 6:22 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    Hey, Mr. Sorensen, I’ve got a question for you.

    Why did you feel it necessary edit the interview and post it elsewhere to boost your own ego?

    Stop bullying Barbara. It’s poor form.

    As you checked out my blogging profile, I reviewed your profile. I see you have a new blog. It’s just ducky. Who says lawyers don’t have a sense of humour???

  5. Allan
    Posted July 4, 2007 at 8:30 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    Hey, Barbara, got a question for you.
    Why was one specific part edited out of your interview with George?
    Or are you charging extra for this information?

  6. Barbara
    Posted July 4, 2007 at 6:39 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    Ouimet I thought we made peace re: the strombo interview… or was that a secret pact?
    I was at a lecture given by a Star investigative reporter teaching his tecniques for digging up information from the Government by using the rights given to everyone by the freedom of information act.
    The government changes a fee for those searches… if the CBC is offering this service to the public… there should be a fee. Take a page from our own Government.
    That’s all I’m sayin’… and at no extra charge.

  7. Anonymous
    Posted July 4, 2007 at 11:10 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    Even Mr. Payan shows up as “anonymous” re: comments earlier about so many anonymous.

    Anyway, I want to see all the documentation on the new Radio 2 programming decisions.

    CEP will want all the lockout decisions, and retirees will want more about their pensions.

  8. Anonymous
    Posted July 4, 2007 at 10:22 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    Hey, Ouimet:

    Two quick things about Access to Information: employees can get answers to most of the questions you’ve posted at http://intranet/ati/; and, answers’ll be added as questions come up about what it all means. It’d help to know what some of those 1000 q’s are, which employees can send to atip(at)cbc.ca.

    Cheers.
    Kevin Payan
    CBC/Radio-Canada Communications

  9. Anonymous
    Posted July 4, 2007 at 9:01 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    it’s funny, the information that’s supposed to be readily available is often the hardest to find.

    I tried to find the name of a piece of background music on Ideas, only to discover:::: *gasp*:::: that the music wasn’t logged.

    Ditto for my local 4-6 Radio One show. No logs at all, for anything.

    We’re required to log any piece longer than 30 seconds, background music or no. It’s the law. even under 30 seconds, the CRTC wants to know about it, even if SOCAN doesn’t.

    And, what’s more, the logs that are there are supposed to be accurate, :::: ahem:::: rather unlike the logs for the CMG lockout filler music, which were carefully altered after the fact to cover up the ::: whoopsie!::: low can-con numbers.


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