Saturday, September 20, 2014

Veteran CBC host retiring to save jobs for young journalists

TORONTO—Veteran CBC television host Linden MacIntyre says he will retire at the end of the summer, in part to save the jobs of young journalists at the struggling public broadcaster.
MacIntyre, who has co-hosted CBC-TV’s “The Fifth Estate” for 24 years, said recent budget cuts are hitting young reporters and producers the hardest and the future of the broadcaster depends on them.

“It’s pretty obvious that the energies and the imagination and the future of an institution depends on the intake of young people,” said MacIntyre, 70.
“They don’t have what I have because I’ve been around a long time, but they will if they’re allowed to be around,” he noted.
“They will acquire everything I have acquired and more.
“Without that potential, the place is doomed,” MacIntyre warned.
In April, CBC announced it would cut $130 million from its annual budget and slash 657 full-time jobs amid federal budget cuts and poor television ratings.
The network also is reeling from losing the rights to marquee program “Hockey Night in Canada” in November to Rogers Media, which paid $5.2 billion for a 12-year broadcast deal.
MacIntyre, an investigative journalist who has won nine Gemini Awards, is the first high-profile staff member to depart due to the recent budget squeeze.
He said he is taking a stand against the cuts and hopes his departure brings public attention to the turmoil at the CBC.
“Even if you’ve never heard of most of the 657 jobs and people that are being cut, they’re all essential to this organization,” MacIntyre stressed.
“Just because people know who I am doesn’t make me any more important than the other 656,” he added.
“People should be aware that there’s a lot being lost.”
MacIntyre said the public broadcaster still can deliver high-quality journalism but it slowly has been forced out of the entertainment sector; most recently by the loss of the hockey rights.
The CBC must figure out what Canadians want, he noted.
But he also warned the public must participate in that conversation or risk losing the public broadcaster.
“I don’t know if people are really geared up to think about it or to talk about it, but they should be, rather than waking up one morning and getting sentimental about the fact that this huge and embedded part of our national identity has disappeared,” MacIntyre remarked.
“It’ll be too late to moan and groan and whine about it then because once it’s gone, it’s really gone.”
CBC president and CEO Hubert Lacroix had said Monday that it was time for a “national conversation” about the broadcaster’s role.
The CBC launched an online consultation process to allow Canadians to offer their feedback.
MacIntyre said his decision to leave was difficult but hopes to return to writing fiction when he retires at the end of August.
He won the Scotiabank Giller Prize in 2009 for his novel “The Bishop’s Man.”

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