The collective intelligence of a picket line can be determined by taking the IQ of its least intelligent member and dividing it by 10.
J-school grads (of which this blogger is one) are usually quite quickly seduced by union rhetoric about the need to protect the interests of workers--except, of course, when one particular union, its seniority rules and mediaeval trade-guild mentality stand in the way of working for Holy Mother Corp.
I too was taught by professors who had worked for years at the CBC and thought it was the sine qua non of Canadian broadcasting, even of the Canadian national identity itself. I also was caught up in the same sterile debates about whether journalists were debased by mucking about with the technicians' work, as if we were part of an officer corps who could not be seen fraternizing with the enlisted men.
Many of these debates ended up turning me off journalism altogether. This blog is about as close to the field as I ever hope to come again...
We all talked about becoming great freelancers when we were in school. Few of us had the stomach to survive the uncertainty and gravitated towards PR jobs instead. Perhaps with this lockout, we'll find out who's really cut for broadcasting and who isn't.
For those of you inside reading this - and I know you are legion - if you want to read lock-out and lock-in blog highlights, you can go to
I wish I would have found it sooner.
For those of you on the outside reading this, if you have a camera and are looking to stick it to the man's home page, you can post a photo on the flicker web site and "tag" it as "cbclockout" and it will apparently be automatically loaded to this web site behind the firewall.
The only way to maintain and improve service is to make the money CBC has to go further, through internal efficiencies, by generating income from existing assets--from program content to real estate [my emphasis]--and by entering into new entrepeneurial partnerships.
"The most successful private broadcasters in the country use a fraction
of the contract work currently used by the public broadcaster," said
Peter Murdoch, Vice-President Media for the CEP. The union represents 26,000
members in the media, including employees at all of Canada's major private
Murdoch said a quick informal survey by CEP showed that contract work is
not nearly as in play in the private sector as it is in the public
CTV, CHUM, Global - these are very successful broadcasters who not only
have less contract workers but far fewer labor disputes. (CBC has had five in
the last six years.)
The CBC should rethink its bargaining strategy, get back to issues of
programming, and stop blaming employees for failures of management.
Taken together, the proposals we have put forward to our unionized employees seek to ensure that the CBC can employ the right people for the right jobs at the right time. It seems obvious, but that is the core of our dispute with our union. Without this ability, our programming will suffer and the CBC will gradually become less relevant and attractive to Canadians.
The employee hired for his medical background, should not be able, because he has seniority to transfer into CBC.ca and displace a newly hired producer who was brought in for her knowledge of the cultural scene and for her familiarity with the blogging universe.This shows Rabinovich's utter and total contempt for his employees and especially the people at CBC.ca. I was the fourth person to join CBC online in 1996. It is now an empire with a couple of hundred people.
Beginning Sept. 6, PBS will make available - exclusively over the Internet - broadcast television's first entirely downloadable series, featuring PBS technology columnist and industry insider Robert X. Cringely's interviews with personalities from the ever-changing world of technology.
Cringely noted, "With more than half of American homes with Internet access now using broadband, computer video - especially downloaded computer video - has become a viable but still little-used option for TV distribution. The strength of this new medium can be found in how it serves niche audiences. This is where Internet distribution shines.
The CBC is notoriously anti-military--except when our soldiers are accidently killed by American bombs.
The CBC ignores our troops in the Balkans and Afghanistan and rejects "unbiased" documentaries that record the work they do.
As for news bias, in the recent Iraq war, the CBC withdrew its staff from Baghdad when bombing began and wouldn't allow reporters to be embedded with attacking troops for fear they'd be suscepitble to military "spin."
Instead, the CBC used American footage of the war and added its own "spin" as to what was happening. Not only cowardly but, that's dishonest journalism.
I'm terribly conflicted to tell you that for the very first time in my career, I'm seriously thinking about my other options. It's hard to maintain a true passion for and dedication to public broadcasting when none of the folks at the top give a rat's ass about it.We know this morning they don't give a rat's ass. I'm switching between CNN and CTV Newsnet's live coverage of Hurricane Katrina.
In another few weeks--or heaven forbid, months--it's the veterans and household names that will be giving serious consideration to career options at the competition.
People are wondering how long management is willing to "let this last." Well, I've laid my hands on the contingency plan and it goes on for days and days and weeks and months. You would be surprised.
They are not stupid brutes, these people. Cathy Sprague [from Human Resources] is as sharp as a tack and refreshingly straight-talking, and all questions were answered in real language. All concerens were openly and honestly discussed.
I have to laugh when I hear people say that these guys are short-sighted and spineless. This is just not true. Their long-term vision might not match yours, but they have one. And they are tough, make no mistake about that.
...those with health insurance are overinsured and their behaviour distorted by moral hazard. Those without health insurance use their own money to make decisions about insurance based on an assessment their needs. The insured are wasteful. The uninsured are prudent.
Out of 175 new [satellite radio] channels only 6 will carry Canadian content. It is only a matter of time before this pattern will transfer onto the TV screen as well.
How then can any new emerging Canadian actors, writers, directors, singers or other performing artists hope to survive, let alone break through?
In truth, this will accelerate a process already begun. Artists will have to write, sing or perform material so neutral that no one could tell if they came from Newfoundland or California.
The only question remaining is, does anyone care?
I didn't hear this segment on NPR, but it's a sad indictment of what used to be the last balanced media outlet in the country. What's next on the Republican agenda? Maybe infiltrating the CBC?
The CBC provides a wide range of programming that reflects Canadian attitudes, opinions, ideas, values and artistic creativity and is specifically mandated with the responsibility of reflecting the realities of Canada’s multicultural, multiracial and Aboriginal communities in its television and radio programming.
Rumour has it that the corp will be making a major announcement next week. Details are sketchy, so I won't get into any speculation at this time. However, the anticipated announcement is rumoured to have very little, or nothing to do with negotiations
There's been streaming video and video clips on the web for 10 years. But now cheap cameras, inexpensive servers and the pace of technology has meant that the video blog is coming up fast, very fast.
Videos, even low quality ones, make a blog much more interesting. When you put video in your blog you get a videoblog, or vblog, for short. They are also known as vidblogs, vlogs, or vogs
There is a small but growing number of vloggers who feel that videoblogging transforms the Internet into a medium in which people can communicate audiovisually through personal video posts and globally network with people as well as to create new independent programming and content not controlled by major broadcasting networks or cable outlets. These practices revolutionize online communication.
This is a very common attitude amongst the cultural elite of this country. They place a higher value on classical music than other genres. Classical music already gets most of the money from the music departments of the Canada Council and the Ontario Council - symphony orchestras are expensive! - so in effect what Russell Smith wants to do is turn all the public, tax generated funding for music over to one genre.
Unfortunately for Russell Smith we all pay for the CBC. And the rest of us think so-called classical music is important - but then so is jazz, so is world music, and so is folk-roots music. The CBC, when it gets up and running again - has to reflect these genres - or it isn't doing it's job.
With this present CBC lockout, it's difficult to see if the CBC management has any idea about what they are doing. If their strategy is to beat down the union with a six month lockout - there wont be much of an audience left when the thing is settled. (Except for Hockey Night In Canada) Do they think the audience is just gonna flow back to Andy Barrie's Radio One morning show in Toronto as soon as he shows up for work? Do they think there will be an audience who even remembers where CBC Newsword is for the crucial second season of George Stroumboulopoulos' The Hour? Maybe CBC management thinks so - I sure don't.And the best part:
And returning to the NHL lockout, if the owners wanted to risk losing half their audience to other sports and entertainment activities with an extended lockout - that was their business - they owned the teamsOther blogs
But CBC management don't own the 'Corpse', we do, the Canadian audience, the Canadian taxpayer, the Canadian arts community who have been supplying the CBC with much of their content for years now.
So the CBC management better have a clear idea of what they are doing here and they had better start conveying it real soon
The workers aren't the problem. ...
The real test of CBC management?
No new Gzowski, no new Frum. I doubt they'd be hired today if they walked in off the street.
A national corporation whose currency is ideas cannot maintain its position of excellence — excellence is the true "edge" — with the use of disposable workers.
I think senior management is frightened by the intelligence, the creativity and the inexplicable loyalty of the workforce. I think middle management does not know how to manage talent or foster creativity
Being locked out is almost a kin to a funeral. Friends you never hear from suddenly show up in nice clothes to offer their best wishes, pat you on the back a few times and then disappear again. You won't hear from them until the next funeral.
Case in point: labour unions. There is nothing organized labour like more than worker misfortune. So it was only a matter of time before they came out in their best duds to offer us a few 'solidarity forever' chants. Today it's the Canadian Labour Congress. I don't know much about CLC boss Ken Georgetti but I sure miss Bobby White. He must be fishing up at the cottage.
Some workers fear that, by competing with CBC, they'll be signing their own death warrant. That's the more pessimistic view. I believe it will show CBC that there are other ways to reach Canadians -- especially those hard-to-reach young Canadians -- that have eluded CBC management until now.
15:06 How both sides in a bitter labour dispute are using online communication - Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) locks out employees, who start podcasting radio shows and blogging their views
21:31 Howard Harawitz on the CBC picket line in Halifax, Canada - interview with Jean LaRoche, CBC reporter, on the use of the internet as a means for employees to communicate their points of view; Shel and Neville discuss the broad potential issues (and opportunities) in labour disputes in future.
CBC has already been on the leading edge when it comes to podcasting (and in Quebec, baladodiffusion), so they're not exactly pushing the envelope, as I recommended of the NHL. What's happening in this case, however, is even more advanced: these reporters are circumventing their own medium. And what an opportunity to do so: 5,500 producers, technicians, writers, and on-air personalities are on the picket lines
I can't help but wonder what would happen if the lockout goes longer than a month or two. With the Canadian Media Guild counting their volunteer work on this project as part of the labor action, this new entity could be Canada's largest news-gathering operation overnight. In only a couple weeks' time, they could organize their own labor against their current employer (as newspaper workers have done when they are locked out), and produce their own programming as they see fit. They would only get a fraction of the CBC's audience to begin with, but over time, the listeners' loyalty to a given host or show would accrue to this new network, not the CBC. They have an opportunity not only to endure a protracted labor dispute, but to come out on the other side having reprogrammed their former network. CBC management may not notice this now, but once they do, they could realize what kind of trouble they're in.
Business Blog Consulting is now a group blog, so Rick doesn't write everything.. The post you linked to about the CBC was actually written by me and I'm even Canadian!
Tristram Hussey, M.S.
CBO, Qumana Software — Managing Director, Qumana Services
In answer to your question, I tuned in to part of the game last night just to see what it looked like. I did in fact hear the announcer do a Global commercial over the PA system while CBC carried the feed. He talked about the new fall line up etc. I couldn't believe what I was hearing. However, the management sound people did drop his sound and switch to music over some graphics, but by then he'd said "Global" at least three times.
Producer Robin Rowland claims that if people submit photos of news events to the CBC, “they are electronically crossing the lockout picket line.” This is utter nonsense. Robin should remember that the CBC is a publicly-owned institution. Its crucial role in keeping Canadians informed trumps his union’s short-term concerns. If you’re considering submitting a photo, weigh the options: more-informed populace or happier, locked-out TV producer. I know which way I’m leaning.
I'm thinking how much easier it would be to cover labor negotiations in a world of blogs. I remember sitting outside closed doors, waiting for labor and management negotiators to emerge. It wasn't always easy to find others to talk to. Today it would be a breeze.
I only wish that some of these bloggers would speak directly to the audiences who miss their programs instead of (mostly) talking amongst and to themselves.
The difference between the two is at the heart of what management has termed a "labour disruption".
But infact, it's a "management disruption." Read the CBC management ads, (paid for by taxpayers money).
They clearly state management was "forced" to lock it's employees out.
Russell Smith in the Globe and Mail has called the CBC The Iron Rice Bowl. That, according to the BBC was a Maoist “idiom referring to the system of guaranteed lifetime employment in state enterprises.”
The Edmonton Sun sneers
Apparently, young employees are always asking the union to help them find permanent positions. "We are talking about the next generation of the CBC," Amber said. "We are a family, and the family goes from generation to generation."
Time for a reality check. Guaranteed employment has gone the way of the dinosaurs (unless you work at the CBC or in some other unionized environment).
It's time for the person on the Edmonton Sun, likely a staff writer, who wrote that editorial to make his/her own reality check. Does that writer have any kids? Does that writer care if that kid has a career? Probably not.
Isn't it interesting how many people who claim to be in favour of the marketplace ignore it?
What these critics are ignoring is the reality of the marketplace for young talent in Canada in 2005.
This surprise, surprise, is not the 1970s when I was in journalism school, this is not the 1980s when The Journal was the most innovative TV news program anywhere in the world.
I have seen the change in the newsrooms of both CBC and CTV and when I was journalism instructor at Ryerson.Ask any senior producer, either at the CBC or in the private sector television and they will tell how hard it is to keep good young people these days. Journalism no longer has the glamour it had 20 years ago.
Most of young people today are not prepared to wait around for the phone to ring. They are not going to tolerate short term contract after short term contract. They are not going to stay in roach-infested apartments while their friends from university are buying condos.
I have seen really talented young people who I knew when I was at CTV in the 1990s, at CBC in the past decade and when I was teaching at Ryerson get tired of knocking their heads against the brick wall. They don't wait like many of my generation. The rate of people leaving is much higher than it was in the past.
Others like another former student don't even to apply to the Main Stream Media, they start their own successful websites.
Knowledgeable recruiters for school boards across Canada are leaping for joy right now. No matter what happens in the CBC dispute, they know that frustrated young people (like a couple of my former students) will be going to teachers college. And then there's law school, grad school and MBA programs.
Media bean counters have never had a long term view. In the 1990s, many media organizations had a double ended layoff policy. Older workers were given packages and younger workers were sent out the door.
Short term gain, long term stupidity. Why has the media lost the younger audience? At least in news it is because those young voices were sent out the door ten to fifteen years ago, the editorial assistants and junior reporters who would have told their seniors: "hey this is an issue..” Or “hey my friends don't think like that.”
Now no one is looking to the future.
Hey guys! Wake up! Boomers like me are going to be retiring in great numbers in the next five to fifteen years.
Schools and universities are desperate to replace the retiring boomers.
The media,meanwhile, in both the public and private sectors, counts beans, and lets many of the best and brightest go to teachers college and law school, ignoring their long term staffing. Of course when there are gaps in the newsrooms a decade from now, the marketplace will set the demands. It will be a seller's market and talent will demand and get the money they want.
But who cares, all the current managers—and it doesn't matter again whether they are in the private sector or public—will be long gone. Let the next guys handle it.
Related link added at 21:47 Aug 18
A post from the yougeek.ca blog where
Darryl MacLeod talks about his own experience. Brief excerpt:
Most of these temp employees will work for two or three years.. with the hope of getting on full-time eventually. When they don't, they will either move on to other employers or leave the broadcasting industry altogether like I did.
I was a temp aka "casual" employee at various CBC locations for over twelve years. I worked all the crappy shifts (some starting at 4:30AM), often with little or no notice. It was like I was on-call twenty four hours a day.
research, writing, journalism, CBC
When I started this blog, I made a conscious decision to keep it tightly focused on my book The Sonkrai Tribunal and issues around the book and the life of a freelancer, I wasn't going to talk about other issues or the CBC where I was employed am now locked out.
I am now going to stretch my decision just a little because of some of the comments that have appeared recently in the press about the main issue, keeping large numbers of new hires on call as casuals or on short term contracts. The Brits even have a word for it, which I found on the National Union of Journalists website casualization.
I am a locked out fulltime employee, but I have been working on my book for the past couple of years, part time an hour or so a night because the small advance was not enough to take time off work. It certainly would not have paid any bills if I didn't have a full time job.
In his column “Virtual Culture” in The Globe and Mail this morning, Russell Smith said
As a career freelancer, I am not enthusiastically sympathetic to the union in this dispute; I have always worked on contracts (or even without a contract as I do here [referring to his Globe and Mail column]) and everyone I know in television works in contracts....so I am not filled with indignation at the prospect of the end of the CBC's famous Iron Rice Bowl. Such Maoist precepts seemed dated now.
First let me say that I was by my own choice, a full time freelancer in Toronto, one of Canada's most expensive cities for about 13 years from 1984, when I was laid off from the CBC's first new media project (yes Mr Smith there are layoffs at the CBC ) until 1997, when I was working full time at CBC Newsworld Online (but still a casual). I went on contract in 1998 and the last set of negotiations in 2000 converted many of the online staff, including myself, on contract to permanent staff.
Freelancing anywhere is like starting up a restaurant, most don't last a year. Thirteen years isn't bad, if I do say so myself.
But given my own experience and Smith's comments, I believe that he is ethically bound to reveal the complete source of his household income.
Because almost all the successful freelancers I know in this city are supported by their partners, most often partners who have full time staff jobs and most of them in non-creative businesses.
If Russell Smith is the sole support of his household he can make that statement. However, if a good proportion of his household income does come from other family members, then his statement is both unethical and hollow.
If he has fled the city for a farm or an inexpensive house in a small town, his statement is valid. If he lives in Toronto and the expense of this city is supported by other family members, then his statement is both unethical and hollow.
I was a single household, which in my case is just me and my cat, for most of the time I freelanced, so I really don't think of much of people who claim to be successful fulltime freelancers while the partner pays most of the mortgage.
Smith also says he works for the Globe and Mail without a contract. Does that mean he retains the rights to his column? He is ethically bound to answer that question as well.
The class action suit against the Globe and Mail and other papers is dragging on. The issue is whether or not freelancers can retain the rights to their material.
Once it was possible for a freelancer to sell slightly different versions of the same story to different outlets or use that material as the basis for further articles. That has become increasingly difficult in the past decade, one of the reasons that I decided being a freelancer was increasingly untenable.
It is the demand from many media organizations that freelancers surrender all rights in the past decade that along with rates with that have not kept pace with inflation that have driven many freelancers into staff jobs in TV (yes there are staff jobs in TV Mr. Smith) or have left creative industries altogether.
And that is a loss to Canadian culture.
One more thing, things are not so good south of the border for freelancers either. I have a large number of freelancer friends and acquaintances in the United States. They have a lot more outlets for their work than we do in Canada. But they have one huge problem we don't here. They tell me time and time again that most of that money goes for minimal health insurance. So their relative income isn't much better.
So my message to Russell Smith and the others who think the CBC is an Iron Rice Bowl are living in the 1970s. Get real.
research, writing, journalism, CBC
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)
|A River Kwai Story
The Sonkrai Tribunal
|The Garret Tree
That tree can be seen outside the window of this garret.
An original photograph, filtered by a Photo Shop plug-in called India Ink.