The Garret Tree
Sunday, October 02, 2005
  CBC 127: Paul Workman responds: "still a believer" in CBC

Updated: 1601, 2040 Zerbisias and a personal response.

I have just received the following e-mail from Paul Workman in France.
I was surprised as anybody to read about my apparent replacement in Paris. This was the first time I’d heard any of this. I think it’s unfortunate that my future is being discussed publicly in a newspaper or on the web, rather than as a private conversation between employee and employer. I always thought this type of discussion was privileged.

Let me first thank all the people who have written notes of support and encouragement; I appreciate the hardship this lockout has caused and I admire the conduct and determination of my friends and colleagues on the picket lines. I’ve worked at the CBC for 30 years, and dedicated my professional life to what I consider to be a vital Canadian institution. And I’m still a believer, though more and more discouraged by what I see happening. I recently signed a new contract to continue working abroad, so I was understandably distraught to learn the CBC has already chosen my successor, and apparently done so in secret during the lockout. I chose not to go back to work as a small gesture of solidarity and as many people know, was placed on “unauthorized leave.” I wish nothing more than to continue my profession as a foreign correspondent with the CBC.

Paul Workman

My opinion is that we have two of the CBC's most hard working correspondents caught in the middle of a fight that neither deserve. Both men are credits to the organization that CBC could be.

Chatter: There was informed chatter this afternoon, which I cannot independently confirm, that the leak to Antonia Zerbisias was a deliberate attempt to cause disruption and dissension among the lockedout.
If that was the case, the comments on other blogs show that the leaker succeeded and that was a win for their side. And if what I have heard is true, for a manager to try for such a small short term gain and cause such long term damage to the CBC, means that person should be evicted immediately from the Toronto Broadcast Centre not only for breaking confidentiality but for absolute stupidity.

Note 2032: Comments on other blogs have accused me of inventing a conspiracy theory. In this part I was simply reporting what I heard this afternoon from people outside the Toronto Broadcast Centre. That is why it was identified as "chatter." If readers would care to read what I wrote I said I could not independently confirm this, and I used the term "if" a number of times. It was simply a case of reporting what is part of the prevailing vicious mood after all these weeks.

Antonia Zerbisias responds at 1601 ET:

I would appreciate your ceasing to speculate over the source of "the leak," or the motives for it. It is a waste of time, and will lead nowhere except to foster further unnecessary acrimony. Indeed it is completely destructive. Watching this unfold, I feel great sorrow for CBC right now, especially CBC News for which I was once a proud, if insecure, contract worker.

Finally, I must say it's as if you (and others) are shooting the messenger here. Workman's recall is a legitimate story. His replacement is part of it. My facts have yet to be disputed. I did my job. Please keep your internecine wars to yourselves.

Robin's comment:I agree that it is a legitimate story at any time. But these are not normal times and so the reaction was a lot different than it would have been during any other time. That, unfortunately, made Zerbisias not just the messenger but part of the story. The story was not just that Common could replace Workman but the fact that it leaked at this critical time.

Antonia at 2030 ET has asked that I post one more response. E-mail comments are now closed on this issue and I am adding no more comments.

The story was not just that Common could replace Workman but the fact that it leaked at this critical time."
Oh. So as a journalist I should withold a story that is current -- the offer was made in writing during the lockout, as even David Common confirms -- because it's ''a critical time?''
Please. I'd like to see somebody sell that concept that during a news meeting at The National: "Oh, I have this scoop on my beat about something which is happening now but it's 'a critical time' and all so maybe we should wait until after the 'critical time' to run it?"

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I write in a renovated garret in my house in a part of Toronto, Canada, called "The Pocket." The blog is named for a tree can be seen outside the window of my garret.

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Name: Robin Rowland
Location: Toronto, Canada

I'm a Toronto-based writer, photographer, web producer, television producer, journalist and teacher. I'm author of five books, the latest A River Kwai Story: The Sonkrai Tribunal. The Garret tree is my blog on the writing life including my progress on my next book (which will be announced here some time in the coming months) My second blog, the Wampo, Nieke and Sonkrai follows the slow progress of my freelanced model railway based on my research on the Burma Thailand Railway (which is why it isn't updated that often) The Creative Guide to Research, based on my book published in 2000 is basically an archive of news, information and hints for both the online and the shoe-leather" researcher. (Google has taken over everything but there are still good hints there)

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