The post-Burman CBC

The Ryerson Review of Journalism is writing about the CBC again. This time in a bit called: “Beyond Repair.” It covers familiar ground, particularly for longterm Tea Makers readers. In fact, it’s hard to believe that anyone besides a Tea Makers reader would want to glance at this thing.

Magid’s role is downplayed. Ian Morrison has a say. The Hub is explained. Jennifer McGuire is “considered by many to be a loyal, ambitious, competent employee.” Longtime Tea Makers’ favourite Jeffrey Dvorkin makes an appearance, telling the story of how he was rejected by Stursberg in 2008:

“You’re a good journalist and programmer and all that, but that’s not what we’re looking for.”

“What are you looking for?”

“Well, we’re looking for someone with experience in the music industry because we think CBC Radio is underperforming as a marketing agency,” said Stursberg.

“What do you mean?”

“Well, CBC Radio could do better in marketing for its products, like music.”

“You mean like iTunes?”


I’m still not sure what they’re talking about. The CBC selling music in iTunes? Or giving away podcasts? But weren’t CBC podcasts already at the top of the charts in 2008?

Stursberg looms large in this article, like he did in the last one the RRJ wrote. But Burman looms larger. Stursberg was never any Burman, but he can’t win to save himself in 2010:

“What Stursberg wants—a network that isn’t just surviving but thriving—is the dream shared by everyone at CBC, and it’s ironic that it was Burman’s study that opened the door for the news renewal, as Burman is revered while Stursberg is vilified.”

Canada gets the CBC it deserves. And if people like Stursberg are left to run the CBC, that’s who we have left to run the CBC. The piece concludes:

“CBC News can either continue, underfunded and struggling to compete for shorter attention spans, or be burnt to the ground.”

I guarantee that the end, when it comes, will not be so dramatic. Or violent. Or hot.

It will be cold and quiet. And we will hardly notice.

(ps – is Twitter back up yet?)


  1. Anonymous
    Posted June 14, 2010 at 10:05 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    After over a decade as a reporter and host, Krista Erickson has decided to leave CBC News.

    Krista joined CBC in her hometown of Winnipeg in 1999 and worked on a variety of programs including Disclosure, Country Canada, and Its a Living. She became a reporter in Winnipeg in 2001, again contributing to many programs including The National and Marketplace, and receiving a Gemini nomination for Best Lifestyle/Practical Information segment.

    In 2004 Krista became the host of Winnipegs supper hours news program.

    In 2006 she moved to Ottawa and became a network reporter in our Parliament Hill Bureau, covering politics for The National and

    Please join me in wishing Krista well.

    Jonathan Whitten
    Executive Director of News Content

  2. Anonymous
    Posted June 13, 2010 at 5:06 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    I didn’t know that CBC Radio was “a marketing agency”…..

  3. Yup
    Posted June 11, 2010 at 10:34 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    Journalistic integrity is fast’ly becoming an oxymoron!

    • Jonny Rotten
      Posted June 11, 2010 at 11:18 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

      Maybe there’s an integrity pill Sturs and his robots could take?

  4. bilderbergers
    Posted June 11, 2010 at 8:32 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece
  5. Anonymous
    Posted June 10, 2010 at 2:13 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    Video didn’t kill the radio star, marketers did.

  6. Fork Dorkus
    Posted June 10, 2010 at 1:29 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    Part of the problem is viewing radio as a “marketing agency”, which is exactly what it isn’t. Plenty of people in radio have music experience, have worked as musicians, have run their own labels, programmed music festivals, etc. But a HUGE chunk of them got canned when Radio 2 got rejigged. Brilliant.

  7. Allan
    Posted June 9, 2010 at 8:35 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    Parts of the article are nonsense.
    – even though the new changes resulted in the public losing respect for the CBC, everything is under control as will become evident 5 years from now. And besides, we can’t win.
    That’s the fundamental conclusion to all the great reporting in this article.

    But some of the statements made are ridiculous.
    And the worst comes at the end of the piece:

    “CBC News can either continue, underfunded and struggling to compete for shorter attention spans, or be burnt to the ground.”

    Really? Really???
    CBC News may one day “be burnt to the ground”? What does that even mean?
    Where is there any basis in reality to that remark, made by “an assistant professor at Brock University”.
    The CBC News is “struggling to compete for shorter attention spans”.
    And what media today is not facing the same “struggle”?
    CBC News is “underfunded”.
    Yeah, me too.
    And who isn’t? What media today is not “underfunded”? Yet it’s been reported that The News Network made a PROFIT last year!
    To suggest that these things are unique to the CBC and no other media – radio, newspapers, magazines, let alone the other two major networks and that CITY-TV up n’ comer, is absurd.
    Everyone is in the same boat.

    “Whitten points to The Nationals website and 10-minute downloadable podcast (updated every weekday at 6 p.m. ET before the main broadcast) as examples of the shows attempts to adapt to the times.”

    This point was brought up several times before, even by Mansbridge.
    But how does podcasting a show thereby make the show itself any different?
    This is “adapting to the times” while the show’s content remains unchanged?
    Someone is kidding themselves.

  8. Anonymous
    Posted June 9, 2010 at 4:14 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    The key is that that you need to hire TALENTED people with experience in the music industry, not has-beens.

  9. Anonymous
    Posted June 9, 2010 at 1:50 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    CBC Radio has more than enough people with “experience in the music industry”. How many more does Stursberg think they need to stop “underperforming as a marketing agency”?

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