22 Aug 2017

Who is wrecking CBC Radio
and why are they doing it?

During CBC Radio’s 81 years  the public broadcaster has been the country’s most important life-line, unifying the nation and helping us understand each other and the important issues of the day.

I am lucky to have worked at the CBC for more than 25 years. I held several positions, including Canadian Editor of The National, working as an investigative journalist, as a radio documentary producer, and as an editor with National Radio News.

Today CBC Radio is more important than ever. With newspapers failing to do their job, journalism in Canada is in crisis. Media organizations are failing to provide communities with news and analysis that is necessary for democracy to function properly.

(Note: If you too disapprove of what’s happening to CBC Radio, I’ve provided emails at the end of this article where you can send your protests.)


CBC Radio is proud of the success of its podcast, Someone Knows Something which explores cold cases after people have disappeared. 
As always, I’ve been listened to Radio One this summer. My favourite programs, which include The Current, As It Happens, The Sunday Edition and Ideas, are doing a good job.

However, I’m puzzled and dismayed by most of about a dozen new summer programs. A couple of them – the Doc Project and Now or Never  – provide some interesting stories told from a personal point of view.

Too much “personal issues” radio

Otherwise, the remaining 10 new programs are not the kind of shows that should be so prominent on the CBC. Too many dwell on the sad stories of people who have had a difficult life. People ramble on about their feelings. There’s lots of talk about “human connections”, and advice for people with problems.

Here is a sampling:
  • Love Me with with Lu Olkowski. “Deep down we all just want to be loved, so why is it one of the toughest things to get right?” says the program description. “Love Me is a podcast about the messiness of human connection.”
  • Road Trip Radio, both a podcast and on Radio One, is described as “a family friendly podcast celebrating all things Canada!” Produced by the team behind CBC Radio’s This is That, most of the episodes have been humourless and an embarrassment. 
  • Out in the Open with Piya Chattopadhyay. The program claims to tackle one timely subject each week with “energy, wit, and journalistic rigor.” A recent episode: “Hair Care: Shaving, waxing, threading, plucking, sugaring, electrolysis.”
  • Sleepover with Sook-Yin Lee. “In each episode one stranger takes the spotlight and presents a problem from their life. The other two offer advice and bring up related experiences from their own unique perspectives.”
  • Seat at the Table with Isabelle Racicot and Martine St-Victor. “A weekly talk show where the hosts bring you honest conversations with guests shaping pop culture.” One episode featured an interview with Laura Wasser, Hollywood's divorce lawyer.  

8 Aug 2017

Do you know a community that
might like a new newspaper?

(Note: Please forward to any folks that might like to look into setting up a paper.)

News outlets in Canadian communities are falling like bowling pins.

At least 171 media organizations in 138 communities closed between 2008 and this January, says the Local News Research Project, a project led by Ryerson School of Journalism.  By comparison, only 51 new outlets opened.

The loss of media is so severe that a special report submitted to the House of Commons Heritage Committee was entitled: “Local news poverty in Canadian Communities.” 

“Local news poverty, we argue,” project co-ordinator April Lindgren writes, “is greatest in communities where residents have limited or no access to timely, verified news about local politics, education, health, economic and other key topics they need to navigate daily life.”


Small communities such as Markdale, ON and Canmore, AB lost their local papers while cities Guelph, ON and Nanaimo, BC were among the largest centres to be hit.

Newspapers have been crucial for the development of Canada for more than three centuries.  But “free” news from for-profit papers is coming to an end.