Leaked CBC radio employee survey: “what morale?”

CBCA new survey of dispirited national CBC Radio News reporters was recently leaked online. Reporters weighed in on the organization’s new multi-platform news desk.

The CBC reports:

“The survey revealed that 90 per cent of the reporters feel that the ‘radio culture’ is much worse than it was a year ago, many of them felt that the storytelling ideals of depth, intelligence, and investigation were disappearing under the news integration process.

“The radio news division has for years maintained a strong concept of a unique radio ‘culture’. Ninety per cent of the reporters said this culture is an important factor in the success of the service. But they also said it’s in jeopardy. “Our culture is dying,” one reporter commented.

“Most of the comments revolved around the loss of radio craft, the increased workload, and the perception that TV staff don’t understand radio and yet they’re swamping radio positions, especially senior positions.

“Now before everyone gets the impression that this survey is indicative of a crisis at CBC News, it’s worth noting that this was a survey of less than 30 national radio reporters.”

The survey instructed reporters to answer a range of questions about The Hub, including daily assignments, planning desk, and management structure.

Some were positive about The Hub:

“As a specialist reporter, I feel very involved in decisions that influence my work.”

“The assignment people keep a decent calendar and for the most part have decent news judgement.”

Some weren’t:

“I feel like a widget who is expected to fill whatever crack has come open.”
“It’s 1:24 PM and I’m only having my assignment cleared now.”
“Planning no longer seems to be interested in features… basically shuffles press

Another question asked “How would you describe the state of ‘radio culture’ today compared to a year ago?”

“Our culture of independent thinking and independent work is being eroded. We
have original ideas but when TV always wants a version as well as cbc.ca, it’s just too much work.”

One place where everyone agreed: Morale. The question: “Compared to a year ago, morale in the national news service is…” The answers:

“The phrase I hear often is ‘I’m grateful for the career I’ve had.’ ”

“I, like many other CBC Radio people I talk to, have never been so discouraged and dispirited. My skills are being wasted, and the only challenge in my working life now is dealing with the incredibly increased stress level. I don’t see opportunities to do strong journalism. I feel I work for a corporation that no longer understands public broadcasting, that cares about ratings and revenue more than content, that no longer understands that CBC has done such amazing work in the past because smart people wanted to work here, could feel proud of the work they were able to do. That’s no longer true, and I am now planning my exit strategy, along with a lot of other smart people. I never thought I’d leave CBC, was proud to be a part of the best journalistic team in the country. I no longer feel that way.”

“What morale?”

“Worst time in my years as a National Reporter. Strike that. It was briefly worse when they locked us out, gambled our credibility with the audience, and sullied the reputation of journalists by taking out full page ads declaring us to be ‘unreasonable’.
But this is a close second.”

A blogger from The Tea Makers, who likens the CBC Hub to Ikea’s one-size-fits-all screws, wonders at the Hub’s purpose:

“Well, one thing it is is a way for CBC News to allocate resources to journalists. Say you need an interview for a story you’re doing. You would submit your needs to the HUB and content would be doled to you in priority.”

“Who knows, you might not need that interview at all. Maybe a TV voiceover would do. Or perhaps a vintage 7-UP commercial?”

Read the full CBC National Radio reporter survey here.