CBC to cut Calgary Newsworld unit, hire more Alberta reporters
CBC News is shutting down the Calgary unit of its 24-hour Newsworld television service as of the end of May, and introducing additional positions for newsgathering, the public broadcaster said Thursday.
Staff in Calgary were told that the decision will result in 32 redundancies.
However, 25 new positions ó largely reporters, camera operators and other field production posts ó will be created in Calgary and Edmonton as part of an ongoing attempt by CBC News to boost newsgathering and local coverage by putting more “feet on the street.”
The two hours of programming Calgary’s Newsworld unit produced each weekday will be shifted to the Toronto bureau.
“We came to the position for reasons of organization and technology. Doing the couple of hours of Newsworld out in Alberta didn’t make any sense any longer. We could do it more efficiently or effectively in Toronto, where we do the other hours,” CBC News publisher John Cruickshank said Thursday afternoon.
“What we’re centralizing is the production piece and the advantage we get Öis to decentralize the newsgathering. That’s the front lines of the business,” he said.
“We have to spend taxpayers’ money wisely and efficiently. We won’t retreat from seeking efficiencies and making sure that the investment gets made in great reporting.”
According to Cruickshank, the new jobs will be “multimedia,” with individuals hired into television positions, “but we’ll be looking for people who can file for” as well.
Cruickshank said he expects the new jobs will result in Alberta being better represented across all media lines of CBC News.
“This is really going to increase the ability to get Alberta news on Newsworld, on [] and certainly improve the local shows,” he said, adding that the new positions will put “more people in the field in Alberta for The National as well.”
Watchdog criticizes cuts
However, Thursday’s announcement was criticized as another step “in a long-term trend towards a centralization of CBC’s operations Ö in Toronto” by the group Friends of Canadian Broadcasting.
“It moves CBC into a model of a metropolis, Toronto, and a hinterland, the rest of Canada,” Ian Morrison, spokesman for the Canadian content watchdog, told CBC News.
While Morrison commended the creation of the new positions to tell Alberta stories, “that is at a grassroots reporting level, not at a resource-allocation, editorial decision-making level,” he said.
“I think it would be a great idea to reduce the bureaucratic over-burden, particularly at senior management levels within the broadcast centre in Toronto, and to deploy such resources ó to use Mr. Cruickshank’s words ó for grassroots, people on the street.”