The following memo was sent to CBC staff on Sept. 22, 2017, from Jennifer McGuire, General Manager and Editor in Chief, CBC News.
Well, nothing like a “sneak preview” to whet the appetite. On Wednesday, dozens of CBC News staff filled The National studio in Toronto for a glimpse of the future. The studio itself has been gutted. In a matter of weeks it will be re-born to fit the vision of a rebuilt News Service. The reveal on Wednesday included a couple of tantalizing images of the contemporary set and powerful visual marks. As explained, even design elements are being conceived to promote Story Development as our driving principle. For those who missed it, we will be sharing more soon in Toronto and in various centres.
Of course, the changes afoot go well beyond The National. At the Wednesday event, we also discussed the programming redesigns taking place around The World at Six, The World This Hour, On The Money and News Network evenings.
Then there are the far-reaching structural changes in Daily News, PLUS the new Central Desk. Work on ALL these fronts is driving forward. We’ve been presenting the evolving plans to program and platform teams in Toronto. If you would like to arrange a presentation for your location, let us know.
- Development work on The National continues on many fronts, with a big push on editorial. All four hosts spent the week in Toronto talking about stories for November and beyond. Meanwhile, The National’s senior team continues to take shape with boards continuing next week and announcements shortly thereafter.
- The Central Desk Pilot project is now a week in, and we have moved into table-top exercises working with the real time news agenda based on the founding principle that the story is the key driver. A lot of hard detailed work has gone into how the desk communicates with programs, how stories flow from alerts to breaking news to longer stories and how chase decisions are made. Still some key areas around lives and the overall coordination with assignment still to be worked through, but it’s slowly taking shape. Central Desk work has also begun in Ottawa as well as Vancouver and discussions on how those piece fit in are ongoing. Newsroom dry runs are planned for next week
- Program development at the World at Six this week included piloting new approaches to line-ups and defining the voice and writing style of the program. This fits within the program’s mandate to feature “strong writing, rich sound, diverse characters and personal moments”.
- CBC News Network with Carole MacNeil — Development is moving apace on programming between 7:00 and 9:00 pm ET Monday to Friday, going live and going deep into the most compelling and important stories of the day. Senior Producer hiring boards were held this week, as the programming team comes together.
Also this week, we announced the launch of a new Content Development unit that will work throughout the news department on strategic projects and programs from within the Content Experience team reporting to Michael Gruzuk. In case you missed it, Jennifer Moroz has been named the Executive Producer of Content Development. Jennifer will work closely with Dave Downey, our Senior Advisor of Content Development. And Spencer Walsh moves into a new role as the Executive Producer of Digital Development with a focus entirely on emerging storytelling
As we mentioned in the spring, the primary focus of our managing editors this year is guiding the tremendous organizational change we have embarked upon. Through the planning, piloting, and development work of the last six months we now have a clearer sense of the many projects and challenges that flow from such a sweeping reorganization. So as we head into final weeks before launch, we are making some adjustments to managing editor assignments.
Our project and development work, for example, has shown a much closer connection between the assignment desk and the central desk than we had originally imagined. For this reason we have asked Managing Editor Paul Hambleton to add the network assignment operations to his current responsibility for the new Central Desk. This will allow Paul to coordinate the teams that are ultimately responsible for ensuring that all programs and platforms get the material they need to serve our audiences. Paul will also have accountability for coordinating big story rollouts.
Greg Reaume will continue as managing editor of our foreign and domestic bureaus. He also continues his management duties at our radio news hourlies, News Network daytime programming, and the daily news elements of our digital operations.
In our Depth and Context area, the work around launching new programs and re-developing existing shows continues at full speed. We have also embarked on an ambitious project to better balance staff and resources so we are better able to respond to major breaking news in the evenings, particularly on Saturday and Sunday nights.
With Jennifer Harwood leading much of this increasingly complex change at News Network and our flagship radio shows, we are adjusting her managing editor duties.
Steve Ladurantaye will now become managing editor at the entertainment unit and the business unit, as well as our health, science and tech unit. He will also manage the opinion unit and our interactives team.
Moving forward, Executive Producer of the National Caroline Harvey will report directly to Jon Whitten, who will also take on managing editor duties with the team.
Joanne McPherson will now shift into a new role as the Managing Editor of Audience Experience, within our Content Experience team. Joanne will focus on audience data and outreach initiatives that will inform programming strategies. She will continue to work across all content areas to advance priority projects, staff engagement, and to guide our strategic planning alongside Communications, Marketing, Brand and Research.
We look forward to updating you at our next town hall, which will be held on Oct. 3. We’ll outline the thinking and structure behind our strategy and changes taking place this fall.
One final note. Many individuals are justifiably anxious about what this renewal project means for them. While we can’t answer all the questions just yet, we are working toward that goal as quickly as possible. Your patience is much appreciated. So too is the dedication of the many staff at all levels who’ve given their energy and ideas to this great purpose.