Finally, a group of very frustrated radio reporters surveyed their peers about the reorganization and relaunch of CBC News. The results of the survey can be found in a 60 + page document presented recently to middle management.
- 90.5% say radio culture at CBC is worse than before.
- 95% say CBC Radio is on the wrong course.
- 80% disagree with the increased use of TV sound, entertainment "kickers" and heavy promotion inside radio news programs.
- 85% say they are not valued by management.
That fusion of the Radio and Television News services has been proceeding for years, and not always smoothly. A number of long time radio staffers have quit in disgust. A few talented ones have gone to NPR.
Management persisted and a few months ago, the last radio news program units were moved into a large space on the 4th floor of the Broadcast Centre in Toronto, alongside their television colleagues. Similar physical moves have happened across the country. The lack of a collective identity is palpable around the building. While some may appreciate the opportunity to do tv and online, there is a sense of loss among many in radio.
In theory, it was supposed to work like this: co-ordination of stories, resources, and agendas would be centralized and given to a unit known as the Hub. The Hub would take a large, multi-platform editorial function involving hundreds of people and create a logical flow of information inside CBC and prioritize decisions for the benefit of all news and information programs - everything from local radio news headlines, to the flagship night newscast to the website.
But planning and execution are two very different beasts. Morale is at an all time low and this was confirmed in the survey given to management.
There may be a certain inevitability to this change. Most multi-platform media organizations are doing much the same things. At CBC, radio people have often had a certain cozy nostalgia - even insularity about their medium. While some of that is valuable and appreciated by the listeners, it can also be perceived by management as tribal and reactionary. Yet there is a strong feeling inside CBC Radio that the changes are being foisted on the whole system in a attempt to bolster the failings of the TV side. There is a lot of truth to that.
But according the Scott White, CP's Editor-in-Chief, many of the same issues at the CBC were tackled successfully at CP. At the Canadian Press, there was constant consultation with the staff. Early in the process, the union - the
At the Canadian Press, print, audio, video and social media are now part of the daily routine. In a recent visit to the offices of Canadian Press, there is clear evidence of how a news organization can successfully integrate different platforms with different cultures for the benefit of the public.
There are some valuable lessons there for CBC management, if they care to look.
* Apologies to CMG.