Internal memo: Star union to employeesInternal memo: Star union to employees

Jan. 10, 2013 
Down to business 
Tentative agreement 
on disputes process 
clears decks for main issues 
First day of full talks leaves focus 
on core concerns 

After two days of preliminary meetings earlier this week, including a detailed financial briefing from the publisher and other senior Toronto Star executives, your bargaining committee has moved into formal negotiations on a new contract with the company. 

In meetings at a downtown hotel that began yesterday (Wed. Jan. 9), your committee tentatively agreed to the creation of a process known as Alternative Disputes Resolution. 

The idea is to separate from the bargaining table at least six ongoing, nagging issues that don’t involve contract changes. These issues — such as vacation tracking and scheduling, alternative medical treatments, hours of work in advertising, freelance in the paper and other issues — would be worked on with the company in the weeks and months following any ratification of a new contract. 

Yesterday we also tabled our core issues that we expect to be negotiated as bargaining proceeds. These include a wage increase, a base-year pension upgrade, a new pension proposal for more recent hires, new language to accommodate emergency family leaves and a contract language change to ensure all deputy department editors in Editorial are designated Deputy Editor, not Team Editor as 3 of the 8 deputies are now designated. 
The company has made no proposals of its own and will not be proposing any. 

Talks are so far scheduled to continue today (Thurs. Jan. 10) and for two days next week. We’ll of course keep you up to date, but do not expect blow-by-blow accounts daily or on every item. Bargaining is more complicated than that. 

–– Stuart Laidlaw, unit chair, and your bargaining committee. 

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No app for making money at theScoreNo app for making money at theScore

Esther Enkin has been one of the cornerstones of CBC News for nearly 25 years.  As you heard earlier today, Esther has been appointed Ombudsman for English services.  It is a role that is the perfect opportunity for her, allowing her to maximize her journalistic acumen, her years of experience, and her calm resolve.  We, of course, will continue to benefit from her insights in the Ombudsman role but that doesn’t mean we won’t miss her and everything she has brought to our department.

Esther first distinguished herself as a producer working on The Journal and The World at Six.  She went on to become a senior manager in radio news, leading the service and developing several new radio programs.  In her recent role as Executive Editor, she has been responsible for monitoring the balance and fairness of our coverage including dozens of federal and provincial elections, working with our investigative teams to help deliver groundbreaking coverage critical to the lives of Canadians, and responding to questions about our coverage from the public and the Ombudsman’s office.

Esther was pivotal in bringing CBC’s Journalistic Standards and Practices, into the 21st century.  After thorough consultations with internal and external experts, and in association with her counterpart at Radio-Canada, the JSP is now a dynamic document which addresses thorny issues like the use of clandestine recordings and social media, covering hostage takings, and how to correct mistakes in a timely and responsible manner.

Producers and reporters across the country have known Esther as the reasoned voice at the other end of the line – someone ready to deliver decisions that advance our journalism, and are fair to our staff, our interviewees and our public.  I personally have valued her integrity and her passion for continuing to better the craft journalism and our people.

Esther will officially leave us in January but it is important that we transfer some of her portfolio immediately.  As an interim measure, effective immediately, I have asked David Studer to assume the responsibility for day-to-day questions about our journalism.  That is all JSP work.  He will do this in conjunction with the red flag process he is managing as part of his investigative portfolio.

Also in the interim, any interactions with the Ombudsman’s office will report to my office, with Gino Apponi overseeing any issues, responses to complainants, and reviews.  Again this is effective immediately.

We will continue to work with Esther in her remaining time with us to transition her other work.

Jennifer McGuire
General Manager and Editor-in-Chief
CBC News and Centres


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OpenFile freelancers unite, take up fight with site’s founderOpenFile freelancers unite, take up fight with site’s founder

Freelancers owed money by OpenFile fired off an open letter to site founder Wilf Dinnick Monday in response to an interview he gave to a journalism professor that was published on J-Source (more background from the Globe). They also set up a tumblr.

As freelancers who put many hours of work into OpenFile’s growth over the past few years, we were all disappointed to hear in late September that it would cease publishing. Freelance journalism isn’t an easy business, and it became a bit tougher when one of the most encouraging prospects for young journalists turned off its lights.

When the organization closed, many of OpenFile’s freelancers were still waiting to be paid for our work. Some had been waiting for months. In late October, several of us emailed company founder Wilf Dinnick, asking when we would be paid. We received no response.

A week later, Dinnick spoke with J-Source. His comments were hardly reassuring. In an email sent to some freelancers on Oct. 2 Dinnick had promised payment soon, at the end of a period of “restructuring.” But he then told J-Source that auditors had physically removed the company’s books and frozen the accounts.

In the interview, Dinnick said that most bills were for only $100 or $200, and only 10 freelancers were owed more than $500.

We wonder why the company would decide to drag freelancers with such small invoices along, for so long, with so little in the way of direction.

Many of the freelancers signing this letter are owed over $1,000. Budgeting without knowing how much money we’ll have in our pockets hasn’t been easy.

Dinnick also implied that paying freelancer within 30 days was somehow a cause of OpenFile’s financial woes. Payment within 30 days was certainly not the norm at OpenFile. Most of us grew accustomed to waiting two or three times that long.

OpenFile had great editors and great reporters, who did some terrific work. We hope it is restructured as quickly as possible and flourishes as an organization.

But it’s irresponsible to embark on another venture without paying off debts still owed to the journalists who made OpenFile what it was.

Once we’re all square, we would be glad to go back to work and get OpenFile on its feet again. For now, we need to get paid


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Journalists: Are you good enough to keep your job?Journalists: Are you good enough to keep your job?

Would you qualify to keep the journalism job you have, if your skills were inputted into a spreadsheet and compared with your coworkers?

Unions representing journalists at Ten – an Australian broadcaster – say the company wants to get more than 100 workers off the payroll.  These are mostly union jobs, which typically means you start hacking at the bottom and stop when you’ve hit the magic number.

But Ten has found another way – it’s created a checklist it uses to rate its employees to make it easier to keep top performers around while getting rid of those who haven’t broadened their skills over the years.

Score high – keep your job. It’s called the Network Ten Selection Matrix.

Journalists can achieve a score in each category of 1-4 – one means “does not meet requirements” and four means “exceeds requirements.” The document is below, so no need to rehash every measurement. But some of them include desktop editing, leadership skills, developing story ideas, level of stories assigned and local and national exposure.

Good time to find a couple of stories, motivate your co-worker to work on the feature you were talking about the other day and update that Twitter account.

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Q&A: Brian Lilley on privatizing CBCQ&A: Brian Lilley on privatizing CBC

Sun News Network host Brian Lilley wants to privatize the Canadian Broadcasting Corp.

That much probably doesn’t come as a surprise to anyone who watches his broadcasts on the network or reads his columns in Sun newspapers, where the CBC is a frequent target. He’s taken his fight off the airwaves with the release of CBC Exposed, a book in which he details past legal fights at the broadcaster and attempts to make the case for privatization.

“CBC Exposed is a book like no other,” the book’s website says. “This book takes on the holy grail of the Canadian media landscape and lays bare the truth about CBC. Reckless reporting at the state broadcaster has ruined lives and cost taxpayers millions upon millions in settlement costs yet no one has ever been held to account. This book does what the consensus media cowards are afraid to do, tell the truth about CBC.”

While the contents of the book may stir debate, the cover is what got may people talking when it was revealed Friday. It features a woman holding a microphone, standing in her underwear with money falling out of her stockings.

I live-tweeted as I read the book Friday, so I figured I should ask him what’s going on.

Why did you choose to depict the CBC as a half-naked woman with money falling out of her underwear?

Well the cover idea came from a graphic designer and the publisher. All I will say is that I’m not a marketing genius, but I hear sex sells.

What’s your elevator pitch for selling the CBC?

Nobody has come up for a valid argument why the government should fund them. Canadians are very good at telling their own stories. The Globe is not a Canadian government-owned newspaper, but you do a good job telling Canadian stories. Sun Media and Sun News aren’t owned by the Canadian government and we do a good job though we come at it from our own point of view. When you ask people why we need a government-owned broadcaster on the scale of the CBC they come up with very loose reasons – but no good reasons.

Is this a hatchet job? I mean, you work for Quebecor after all. Did chief executive officer Pierre Karl Peladeau ask that you take CBC out at the knees?

He has never asked me to do that in the papers and never asked me to do that in this book. This book has nothing to do with Quebecor. There’s a whole chapter on Quebecor’s lawsuit and he didn’t talk to me on it. There’s a chapter on Brian Mulroney, who’s a board member, and he didn’t talk to me. It’s not a hatchet job, I’ve worked in broadcasting a long time and maybe compared to people in print I see things different.

So you’re saying working at one of CBC’s biggest rivals had nothing to do with your decision to write a book calling for CBC to be privatized?

They use their preferential spot on the dial and the system and their billions of dollars to squeeze out the other guys and I think that is wrong. This is something I was interested in before I joined Sun Media. People who have known me a long time, and who have argued with me about the term “state broadcaster,” know that I’ve called it that for at least a decade.

Why do you insist on calling it that? Doesn’t it make it easier to dismiss your arguments?

I’m not the first – Paul Wells at Maclean’s has used it, the Toronto Star, the Globe. It only became toxic when I started using it because I wasn’t using it to talk about how great they are. [President] Hubert Lacroix was just reappointed, it was announced by the Heritage department. Board is appointed by the government. Most of their funding comes from the government. When the state controls that much, then they are the State Broadcaster. Do they parrot the government line? Certainly not this government, that’s true. They may not like it, but it’s an accurate term.

You talk about how other Canadian news organizations don’t cover the CBC with as much zeal as you may like. Do you think that changes in a paywall world?

You know what? The paywall idea could work in many other countries, but it won’t work in Canada. CBC could very well end up being the death of newspapers because when print does eventually go by the wayside, CBC has been building a huge web presence because they know what’s coming. They are building out in Hamilton, Ottawa, Toronto, Kelowna, Kitchener-Waterloo. They will be their own wire service, they will kill off other media using tax dollars. As the rest of the media tries to make it work in a printless age, CBC is in there giving it away for free using tax dollars.

How much original reporting went into the book?

A fair degree in terms of connecting the dots. This is a book where a lot of people are suing each other. I don’t think I’m always writing in my usual voice because I have to be careful. But a fair bit of original reporting because maybe you guys covered one angle, someone else covered another. I had to bring those sources together and find a story. On the back end of the book, there is stuff I had already written and added to.

Ok. Say one nice thing about the CBC.

There are a lot of great people working at the CBC who would have happier lives if their bosses weren’t on the public dole. I’m not saying shut it down, let’s be clear, I’m saying sell the thing.

Interview has been condensed and edited

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Journalism Helper: Media earnings story templateJournalism Helper: Media earnings story template

There’s a lot of interest in media reporting these days, and not much time for busy reporters to write all of the stories they need to write. That’s why I created the “media earnings story” template for general use – just fill in the brackets and you’ll have your copy online in no time.


<INSERT MEDIA COMPANY NAME> posted a <INSERT LOSS IN MILLIONS OF DOLLARS> as advertisers turned to <INTERNET/RIVALS> and alternative services such as <NETFLIX/BLOGS> for their content.

<INSERT MEDIA COMPANY NAME> said revenue fell 10 per cent compared to the same quarter last year, and said it would implement <PAYWALL/SUBSCRIBER FEE HIKE/PROGRAMMING FEE> to help stem the losses as it transitions to a <DIGITAL BROADCASTER/MULTIMEDIA NEWS ORGANIZATION>.

“The advertising market continues to be difficult for <BROADCASTERS/PUBLISHERS,” said <INSERT EXECUTIVE> on a conference call with <ANALYSTS/STAFF>. “The situation is not unique to our <NETWORK/NEWSPAPER>, as our rivals across the industry are facing the same pressures. We expect the market to remain challenging for the next quarter, and visibility is cloudy.”

The <INSERT MEDIA COMPANY NAME> said it would need to <BUILD A PAYWALL/ACQUIRE ITS RIVALS> in order to compete with <FOREIGN RIVALS, FREE CONTENT>, as it announced a series of measures meant to help replace the lack of advertising revenue.

It also said it would streamline operations by <OUTSOURCING TO COUNTRY X> and reducing the number of <JOBS/PROGRAMMING HOURS> and asking its employees to <QUIT/WORK MORE HOURS FOR LESS MONEY/WORK MORE HOURS FOR NO MONEY>.

“We appreciate the efforts of all of our valued employees,” said <EXECUTIVE>. “We want to make sure they understand their <CONTRIBUTION/QUITTING> is appreciated in these difficult times.”

Analysts who cover the company said they were disappointed with the results, and will be looking to management to find <COST EFFICIENCIES/MASSIVE EXPENSIVE TAKEOVERS  to help the company get bigger so it can <COMPETE WITH FOREIGN RIVALS/CONTINUE TO EXIST>.

“While profits continue to accumulate despite the difficulties in the advertising market, we have certain expectations about dividends,” said <INSERT ANALYST HERE>.

The company’s shares <FELL/PLUMMETED/DROPPED> <INSERT PERCENT HERE> in morning trading.


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We get memos: Star shuffles reporting ranksWe get memos: Star shuffles reporting ranks

From the Star today…one hour cash advance

I am delighted to announce the following appointments:
Tanya Talaga moves from Queens Park to the new Global Economics beat. Tanya, who joined the Star in 1995, enjoys a singular reputation for her work as a health, education and, most recently, a politics reporter. Her achievements include two nominations for the prestigious Michener Award — for Medical Secrets (2007) in which she and Rob Cribb changed the province’s policies to improve transparency and accountability in patient care and, in 1997, for 1,000 Voices, Lives on Hold, in which she, Jonathan Ferguson and Vinay Menon chronicled the stories of young people who were poor, in debt and without much hope. She was also part of the Star team that was nominated for an NNA in Special Projects for coverage of poverty in the GTA.

Raveena Aulakh is the new Environment reporter. Raveena, who joined the Star in 2008, is known for her attention to craft and her determination to get her story. Her many accomplishments include an NNA nomination for international reporting in 2010 for her stories detailing the exodus of young men from Punjab villages to the West; her aggressive, never-say-never coverage of the Tori Stafford case from when the story broke to the trial earlier this year and her remarkable story of love and obsession about a Japanese mother’s search for her daughter’s remains following the catastrophic tsunami of 2011. She was part of the team that won the 2010 Breaking News NNA for G20 coverage.
Jenny Yang becomes the Global Health reporter. Since joining the paper as an intern in 2009, Jenny has distinguished herself with smart, compelling and thorough stories. She won the NNA for explanatory journalism for her fascinating account of the rescue of the Chilean miners, a story that gripped the world in 2010. She has also dominated the competition with her incomparable coverage of the G20 — both as the story broke (Jenny was also a member of the award-winning breaking news team) and in the aftermath as the scope of civil rights violations made this one of the most important stories in GTA.
Kate Allen is the new Science and Technology reporter. Kate, who joined the Star as an intern in 2010, has emerged as a talent in reporting complex and elaborate subjects and turning them into clear and clever prose. Among her most memorable work has been the recent May You Be Forever Yonge project and its strong social and multi media components, Wild Laws in which she teamed with Wendy Gillis for stories on private zoos in Ontario and A Year of Living Dangerously, how La Nina caused the water wars in Texas. Kate has been nominated for a Canadian Online Publishing Award for a feature on immigration and was a member of the UBC team that produced a documentary for PBS’s Frontline.

Please join me in congratulating them on their new positions.
Lynn McAuley


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Bell on mobile access to its contentBell on mobile access to its content

Rogers said today that Bell is going to stick it to everyone when it comes to mobile television, a charge that has Bell executives spitting mad. Here’s what Bell had to say at the CRTC about allowing its content to be used by other companies to launch mobile services.

MR. COPE: Yes. I think if we back up all the way to the first principle, but I want to talk about the Bell Mobile TV, as again, we’re in the business of selling our content to every BDU on all the screens. That is absolutely core to what we’re trying to do and it’s our belief that across four screens Canadians are going to end up with world-leading and are now world-leading services from all of our competitors too at the BDU level.

But yes, Mobile TV — there’s no doubt Bell Wireless has been a leader in the world in this. We came up with the concept. We launched it in Canada. But our vision has been really simple. For the consumer it’s an incredible service because it’s $5 a month for 10 hours of viewing and it’s outside of any of your data bucket.

So it’s totally affordable and 500,000 Canadians are now subscribing to the service. We could not be more excited than to sell our service to TELUS and Rogers and the other wireless carriers to put it on their handsets.

Just to give you a perspective, Bell Mobility today pays $8 million — and that number is growing — on an annualized basis to Bell Media. We have offered these services, all of our content, to our other wireless companies for $3 million a year and if you do the model, after that it becomes a per subscriber fee. If you do a model on a $5 bill for a Canadian consumer and you take all the Canadian content that we expect to be on handsets, these dollars are so small.

We believe people aren’t carrying the wireless product to create a perception of vertical integration being a problem because at $3 million if Bell Media’s content is not worth that much in an exploding wireless business, then we actually don’t have a Mobile TV business.

And so we’re very relaxed about the economics. We’re excited to sell it. We want to buy — we have, and if you look at Bell Mobile’s product you will see we have lots of other content other than Bell Media’s content on it and we look forward obviously to carry everyone’s content on it as soon as we can arrange it.

And more importantly, Kevin’s job is to sell that content to our other wireless companies to get everyone in Canada to have available these types of services. That’s our fundamental belief.

THE CHAIRPERSON: Well, your position is clear. We’ll see through the intervention phase how others react to that.

MR. COPE: We will but I do think it’s absolutely critical to understand that TELUS and Rogers are upset about $3 million a year for access to this and that it’s created headlines in the media about us having exclusive wireless. We don’t. We have actually created a world-leading technology that Canada can be proud of, not worry about $3 million bills for these companies. Thank you.


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