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


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


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.