Memo: Further details on changes to CBC News

The following memo was sent to CBC staff on March 29, 2017, from Jennifer McGuire, General Manager and Editor in Chief. The following memo was sent to CBC staff on March 29, 2017, from Jennifer McGuire, General Manager and Editor in Chief I wanted to provide an update as we continue the work of re-imagining CBC News.…

The following memo was sent to CBC staff on March 29, 2017, from Jennifer McGuire, General Manager and Editor in Chief.

The following memo was sent to CBC staff on March 29, 2017, from Jennifer McGuire, General Manager and Editor in Chief

I wanted to provide an update as we continue the work of re-imagining CBC News.  As a reminder, we are moving from a structure currently divided into broadcast programs, digital platforms, and integrated newsgathering, to a structure that is content based, and divided into daily news, depth and context, investigative, and content innovation.

Our early restructuring work has been driven by the following goals:

  • Digital news needs to be a part of everything we do, not a stand-alone pillar of our news service.

  • To position ourselves and our journalists for the future, we need to provide more opportunities for staff who currently have little or no connection to digital news.

  • We need to be organized at the highest level around story and content, not program or platform.

  • We need to be as good at telling stories that look forward, advance the news and set the agenda as we are at covering breaking news.

  • We need to redirect resources to create more original and investigative journalism and to better serve audiences on emerging platforms.

  • The successful redevelopment of The National is dependent and inextricably linked to the reinvention of our news service.  Both must change in order to grow and prosper.

  • We need to be even more focused on innovation and how we serve future audiences.

The next step toward reaching these goals is shifting the roles and responsibilities of our Managing Editors.  As with everything we do in this reorganization, these changes are not simply reassignments.  As our teams separate and merge into new teams built around our new pillars and aligned with the goals listed above, so too will our ways of working and connecting.

Elements of the existing digital team, for example, will be moving into all of our new structure areas: Daily News, Depth and Context (The National), and Content Experience (Innovation).  The same can be said about many of our other content teams.

For Managing Editors, this means the primary focus for the year ahead will be, with support and input from everyone, guiding this change.

And so beginning in early April, Greg Reaume will be working with Brodie Fenlon to organize the new Daily News group.  In addition to his current management of our foreign bureaus, the network assignment desk, network journalists in Toronto and his co-management (with local ME’s) of our domestic network bureaus, Greg will take on an expanded administrative role over the daily elements of our radio news operation, the daily elements of our digital operations, and the News Network daytime and weekend group.  The scope of this project will require Greg to focus on the mechanics and staffing of the new operation.  This will mean shifting the roles and editorial accountabilities of many of our Executive and Senior Producers, which we will discuss in our next update.  Until then, Lianne Elliott will oversee, with management support from Brodie and Greg.

Also next month, Jennifer Harwood will begin working with Jon Whitten in the Depth and Context group.  Jennifer, who currently manages all of News Network, will continue to manage the programs On The Money, The Passionate Eye, as well as News Network’s Vancouver operations.  She will also maintain a responsibility for daily coordination of all News Network programming.  In this role, Jennifer will also take on responsibility for the following Radio News programs;  World Report, The World at Six, and The World This Weekend.  Jennifer will also manage our Network  Entertainment unit, and our Network Business Unit.  The Network Health Unit, under Mark Harrison, will report directly to Jon.

Paul Hambleton will continue to manage The National while our flagship television news program is redeveloped under The National’s new Managing Editor Steve Ladurantaye.  Paul will also continue to run our network investigative unit, and manage our investigative programs the fifth estate and Marketplace.  The new head of investigative journalism position will be posted shortly.  We have also asked Paul to work with Brodie and  begin building the new story-based central news desk that will drive content on all of our platforms.  The desk will grow over the next six months, but will begin by combining the current operations of our Radio syndication group and our Newstream and Alert Desks.

Joanne McPherson will continue her work on impact programming and coordination, including work on Canada’s 150th anniversary as well as The National in Conversation events this spring.  She will work with all ME’s to develop cross-program strategies and will represent News content with outside departments including Communications, Marketing, Brand and Research.

I’m also very pleased to announce today that Michael Gruzuk will be returning to CBC News as Senior Director of Content Experience.  Reporting directly to me, Michael will lead the new area devoted to program development, innovation in storytelling and presentation, new product development, and specials.  Michael is well known here for his work in investigative, documentary, and live television at Marketplace, The National, and as head of our Specials group.  Most recently he has worked in the digital space as head of news and editorial for VICE Canada, overseeing their multiple channels and video teams.  As head of our Content Experience group, Michael will work closely with Jon Whitten, Brodie Fenlon and all the managing editors to take on the critical task of charting a new creative direction for our storytelling and presentation.  He will also be concentrating on emerging tools that maximize how our journalism is consumed across platforms.  On the program development side, Michael’s first assignment will be to work closely with the group redeveloping The National.  Joanne’s work will also fall under Michael in the Content Experience group.  Welcome back Michael!

Finally, another reminder that our news renewal project is not about building new silos.  To meet the goals we have laid out, we will have to work more closely together than ever before.  In an ever changing media landscape, the boundaries between the new areas we have created will never be static.  There can be as much depth in a live report delivered while news is unfolding, as an analysis piece on our Politics page, or a longer tape piece on The National or The World at Six.  The “Daily News” focus of our restructured department will be as much about advancing stories in the daily news cycle as it is about live, breaking coverage.  The “Depth and Context” area will be home to the stand alone, enterprise journalism that takes more time to plan and produce.

We will begin sending these update notes regularly.  We know there is a lot to digest.  We are committed to meeting regularly with teams to provide more detailed information on what the impacts mean in specific areas and are always available if you have any questions or concerns.

H.G. Watson was J-Source's managing editor from 2015 to 2018. She is a journalist based in Toronto. You can learn more about her at