Guest blogger: On integration

Sent to me by sadforcbc.

Dear Hubert

We were bummed to begin with. And yeah, it’s because of Dick.

The integration meetings were a disaster. None of us cherish the sight of the Chief Correspondent publicly challenging the EVP. The fact he had to is bad. Real bad.
So we were really bummed.

None of us cherish the sight of the Village Idiot asserting that the audience doesn’t matter, and thus feeding Richard’s erroneous perception that we’re an elite snobbish institution that must be torn down. That was bad. Real bad.

So we were bummed even more.

The new guy, Cruickshank, is agreeing with everyone publicly and taking four sides to every issue, but taking only the wrong side when and where it matters.

We were getting really seriously bummed.

On integration, decisions are being made on perceptions formed years ago which ignore today’s realities. The stuff they’re talking about, we recognized years ago. And fixed. It ain’t 1995. We don’t send multiple crews to the same event. We don’t flounder around making multiple internal phone calls to find out which service is doing what. We long ago developed a sophisticated and constantly improving process to share information. We don’t need Magid telling us how to do local news, and we don’t need a CNN veteran telling us how to integrate because it worked so well in Hong Kong back when video on demand was a Bill Gates wet dream. And it is dispiriting to say the least to see our demoted senior people (well, not demoted so much as now they have a new level to report to and no inside track to the decision desk) cowed and silent on the sidelines as this so-called vision is unveiled.

It’s a business model. And yes, on paper it makes great sense to bring all the streams together and share all information and assignments under an über-assignment complex.

Radio is a terrific service. But, as Richard noted, it exists in a non-commercial and largely non-competitive environment. Television exists, as Richard has previously noted in speeches, in a totally commercial and largely competitive environment. On-line is confused as all get out. Does it continue as a re-write and re-purpose service, or does it actually send people out of the building? So you have one non-commercial service, one commercial service and one confused service. Within these three, there are three singularly distinct audiences, three singularly distinct services, and three singularly distinct story selecting and story telling priorities. And now we are merging, based on some hazy uninformed recollection of mid-90’s double-assigning, and a vague uninformed notion that everything is content and therefore an indistinct porridge that can be dolloped onto any platform plate.

Corporate history is full of stories of failed looked-good-on-paper mergers. Better managers than Richard, who do not come from the cultures, do not understand the cultures, rationalize that cultures should not exist, have failed, in sometimes spectacular fashion, to merge them. The stakes are a lot higher when the only shareholder is the People of Canada. And Richard, who has been wrong on so many issues, is spectacularly wrong on this one.

Contrary to what was stated as fact, and justification for this merger, we ARE doing original journalism. We ARE breaking stories. The platform lines ARE co-operating and we ARE earning ratings together. Much has been made of radio’s well-earned ratings, but only recently it has finally been disclosed on the intranet, that in fact Newsworld IS number one in terms of ratings. And that the National IS, when you add in the substantial Newsworld ratings, THE number one newscast in the country.

And now we are presented with the fix to what is obviously a problem.

Hubert, I am sure this sounds great in the boardroom. All this talk of merging resources and redeploying to get more boots on the ground and have news trickle up from the street and so on. Great. Sounds wonderful. Really? The architect of this is a guy who has zero newsgathering experience. His hired wind-catcher (I’m trying not to say bad words) is a guy who has zero experience in broadcast journalism. Richard lost the room years ago, and John lost it last week. Are you really going to entrust them with executing the most dramatic and fundamental change CBC News has ever experienced?

Morale is the lowest we have ever seen it. But this is not just about morale. Richard is taking this institution, our institution, your institution (after all, you are the boss) in a direction it should not go, In previous blogs, you have seen the response from employees posting, albeit anonymously. All have supported calls for his removal. None have defended him. They are right. They speak the truth.

Take Peter out for lunch. Take any of us out for lunch. I’m sure there will be lots to talk about.



  1. Anonymous
    Posted March 5, 2008 at 1:22 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    I work in media relations for a large company that is frequently in the news. It is not uncommon for six or seven cbc news silos to call about the same story, get the same quote. Anything to cut that down would be a blessing.

  2. Anonymous
    Posted March 5, 2008 at 5:57 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    Hello Sad,

    I don’t know what newsroom you work in but I see three to four crew show up on many events. The various parts of the news rooms are like little islands that have no idea what the folks on the other side of the building are up to. We waste resources and are slow to break news. How many times have I seen a producer start making phone calls to chase a story after they see it break on the wires and then watch it on newsnet. CBC newsgathering is slow, slow and really slow. Duplication is the standard. Wake up sad. This is still 1995 at the CBC. We need to change.

  3. Anonymous
    Posted February 28, 2008 at 10:52 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    hey sad,

    that CNN guy you are referring to is smart and he cares about CBC. He is one of the reasons for the success of Radio and is loved by many.

    He cares about his people and he is on your side. More importantly, he understands News. You are one of the lucky ones to have a leader like him.

    Count your blessings. His name is Todd Spencer. Next time you see him, you should share his hands and say thanks.

  4. Anonymous
    Posted February 28, 2008 at 2:18 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    anonymous 9:22 AM
    “somebody, anybody should stand up and defend Dick”

    Somebody must be defending Dick because he’s still the King. The question becomes why is he The One?
    Dick’s Reign of Terror (which will be the name of his reality show) is a deliberate act of sabotage and control designed to destroy the CBC. Dick knows exactly what he is doing and nobody can stop him, not even Saint Hubert.

    Only a few years ago the CBC produced some of the finest television in the world. And then along came Dick and his team of evil friends who have essentially destroyed Canadian television and the CBC’s reputation along with it. Nothing can be done to repair the damage and there are few places left to hide the bodies.

  5. Anonymous
    Posted February 28, 2008 at 7:22 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    This post raises a really good point. Somebody, anybody, should stand up and defend Dick. Even as a satire. We’ve done a great job so far deconstructing all things Dick, and now we’re starting to lean towards becoming “Dear Hubert” dot blogspot dot com, but why not invite Dick to offer his side? Seriously, a formal invitation from the Tea Makers to Dicksburg offering him prime space to write a guest post and offer his side of the argument. If he declines this invitation, then, we’ll write his guest post for him, under his own name, and then force him to at least deny he wrote it.

    Raise the stakes people!


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