The renewal of CBCNews.ca and scurrilous flutter on Twitter

Yesterday we launched the renewal of CBCNews.ca with a series of discussions with staff across the country. There was genuine excitement about the direction, which is about better serving our audiences. There were also constructive questions expressing a need for more detail, and expressing fear and some concerns about change. The questions were totally appropriate and welcomed. It was gratifying to see people engage in making CBC News a better service.

CBCNews.ca is the latest phase of our ongoing renewal. Through it all we have tried to keep the process as open and collaborative as possible. Every layer of CBC News has participated in shaping the changes you are seeing on air and that will continue. Change is difficult. As is true of every massive change, not everyone will be happy all the time. And programs and processes will evolve through time. We have been listening to feedback and making adjustments. We are working together on solutions and, while not perfect, the project is moving forward. Concerns are being heard and adjustments are being made. This is how it should work.

Recently the new Executive Director of News Content, Jonathan Whitten, had a productive dialogue with a group of radio news reporters who were concerned with their place in the CBC News change. Again, some of the feedback is well founded and we listened. This is totally appropriate and welcomed. This is how the process should work and I applaud the reporters for coming forward.

So I have to honestly say that it was particularly dismaying to see today’s twitter flutter and blog postings about an informal survey of network radio reporters. The survey is something we are actively discussing with the reporters. In fact, we have a survey that is intended to go out to staff shortly. We are happy to engage on the issues but I want to stress a few points:

First of all, by all measures of success – in terms of audiences and journalism – our radio programs are meeting audience needs. It doesn’t mean there isn’t room to make them better, but they are not broken. They are performing well, to record audiences in fact.

Secondly, if you were to follow the blogs and columns (including some from disgruntled former employees), it reads as if CBC News has abandoned the cornerstone of its mandate: doing quality journalism. Nothing can be further from the truth. The truth is that quality journalism is still our biggest priority. As part of news renewal, we began a discussion about what defines quality journalism, how should it be showcased, and how we make sure it meets the needs of all Canadians in 2010 and beyond. But make no mistake: the quality is still ever present. We have had numerous examples of original, enterprise, exclusive and investigative stories on all our platforms in recent weeks, the most recent being Dave Seglins’ dogged pursuit over the weekend of the investigator linked to the Jaffer-Geurgis story.

My final point is about the culture we want to create here in CBC News. Some of the comments made public about colleagues are not attributed, unsubstantiated and unconscionable.

This is damaging. And let’s be clear, it damages us all in the public’s mind, including the authors and participants in the survey. It embarrasses us all. And all of you are working incredibly hard and deserve accolades.

So, while I totally understand the motivation of former CBC’ers with an axe to grind, I am more perplexed as to why people who are invested in CBC News would not engage in conversations through channels that would actually make things better.

My point is not to censor what you have to say, nor hide the fact that there are still things to fix and work to do, but rather to encourage you if you have concerns or feedback to engage in the process of making it better and moving us forward.

Jennifer McGuire
General Manager and Editor in Chief, CBC News

7 comments:

  1. Anonymous
    Posted April 25, 2010 at 5:15 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    “By all measures of success”, eh? I guess employee morale and satisfaction is not a measure of success. And what about the record-breaking rate of burn out and stress leave? I just wish the corp would treat its human resources with as much care and thought as its financial resources.
    It’s going to bite them in the ass.

  2. AllaboutMyBonus
    Posted April 25, 2010 at 9:31 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    It is astounding how bad management is promptly rewarded in this day and age. Instead of analyzing the issues and coming up with solutions, all management can do is finger point and Scarlett letter those who are “not following the same brainwashing class that they paid for for upper management” as I did.

    It isn’t just news either. Look at the whole Hockey night in Canada theme fiasco. “Let’s try and burn a lady out of her money with a song we have used for years”

    The corporate mentality at CBC is Bureaucratic. You are government employees. Period. Regardless of how you slice it. CBC likes to think it is on the same footing as BBC. I have news for you. At least there they stress the “diction” that CBC used to be so proud of, and don’t even get me started on tehcnology….

    CBC is a used to be, which is a has been has been.

    Too bad how an Icon has become a sorry Joke with bad management at worse foresight.

  3. Posted April 22, 2010 at 12:55 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    “As part of news renewal, we began a discussion about what defines quality journalism, […]’.

    a) this implies that either the current management don’t have a vision of quality journalism, or are unable to lead their staff to that vision except by consensus or committee
    b) it also implies that journalists currently on the job are not producing quality work

    Quite a morale booster!

  4. CBC News Now Sucks
    Posted April 22, 2010 at 12:00 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    Yes, the 4th floor. And, just to think how much this amalgmation of news to the 4th floor cost???? How many millions, Mr. Stursberg???? That is what CBC Managers do right???? Spend millions of dollars to make CBC less efficient – providing even worse news coverage, while making the employees feel even more depressed and frustrated. Kudos to the VP’s and upper management. Kudos to you all. Send out a note, or better yet get Hubert to send out a note (if he can get his head out of the sand long enough to type it up) so you can ‘pat each other on the back’ again. Napoleon Dynamite said it best, “Frickin’ Idiots”.

  5. Baggage Handler
    Posted April 22, 2010 at 11:32 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    Gosh, sounds like CBC Television. Run by the same person.

  6. CBC News employee
    Posted April 22, 2010 at 9:53 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    Jennifer is living in a bubble. CBC News is in crisis. The 4th floor in Toronto is a morale disaster. A heavy-handed regime has moved in. Most people were screwed by the news renewal. It’s no longer fun to be there. The structure is more complicated and everyone is made to feel replaceable. Unless of course you’re a star hand picked by management. Has anyone noticed how bad a track record CBC management has at picking stars?


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