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Now the Details

Media, ethics, and journalism. What works. What doesn't.

Jeffrey Dvorkin

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

One Woman's Anguish at Being Fired

I ran into a friend from my CBC days on a street corner in Toronto yesterday. Dave Anderson told me that he's had enough and rather than wait for the inevitable downsizing, he's taken a buy-out and is leaving the CBC, Toronto and journalism in general. His retirement takes effect on Friday after more than 30 years at the CBC.

It's a real loss for public broadcasting because Dave knows journalism and radio very well. He ran more election night broadcasts and news specials than anyone else. He did it with great professionalism and a lot of humor. There are not many more like him.

Dave will be fine, I'm sure. He's smart and assertive and can look after himself. But others I fear, will not.

I also recently heard about another ex-CBCer who lost her job in a round of cutbacks 12 years ago. Let's call her Ms. O. She is still hurt and angry at what she still believes was a deeply unfair "RIF" (reduction in force) at the CBC, and my role in that event.

I mention this because although I was Managing Editor at CBC Radio when this happened, the employee in question was not on my budget. She lost her job in another department. But as she told a mutual friend, when she came out of her boss' office after being given the news, the first person she saw was me. I was, she related, having a cup of coffee, chatting with someone and apparently blissfully unaware and unconcerned that her life had been completely changed and overturned. And twelve years later, she still remembers.

Now it would be easy to say that this particular ex-employee has some issues here. And that thousands, if not millions of people have lost their jobs since then and she should just suck it up and move her life along (which she has as far as I know).

But the trauma of job loss has stayed with her, as has her fixation on my lack of interest in her firing.

As media organizations continue to lose employees, how many other people like Ms. O will brood about what happened to them? What are the health consequences of firing? What impact will layoffs have on the people who survive this round of cuts, but wonder if they will be next on the block? And how can media organizations properly function when morale sinks?

I fear that there are a lot more like Ms. O waiting to emerge.

1 comment:

  1. Amen Jeffery.
    While I can sympathize with Ms. O...12 years is a long time to hold on.
    But, I find being angry is easy. The real hard part is accepting what happened and growing from it. I don't hear a lot of that right now but I suspect I will has time goes on.
    And for those who choose to hold on to the anger and hurt, I can only hope they one day decide their mental and physical health are more important.

    Doug Mitchell