It has not been a good couple of years for media employees in North America. In the U.S., the numbers are truly mind boggling: 44,000 people have lost their jobs in the industry in the past five years. That’s why CMG’s parent union, The Newspaper Guild-CWA, organized a day of action on December 11, when the US media regulator began meeting to discuss media ownership issues and debate whether to allow corporations to own more media outlets.
“Across the country, workers will be standing together for journalism and against growing efforts by corporate owners to slash the jobs and resources that serve our communities,” says Linda Foley, TNG-CWA president.
The situation in the Canadian media industry is not more encouraging.
At Sun and CHUM, mergers and convergence– the latest media management buzzword that typically means getting fewer people to do more work– have killed more than 300 jobs and brought a 50% reduction in nightly news broadcast hours in Calgary, Edmonton and Winnipeg.
At TVOntario, five information shows have been cancelled. Gone are the documentaries from across Ontario featured on Studio 2 and Vox. Gone, too, are the probing author interviews, medical insights and life skills info from More to Life, Second Opinion and Imprint. Nineteen positions have been eliminated in French and English programming; a dozen journalists have left TVO.
Private TV broadcasters have recently told the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission they want fewer rules on the content, including news, they put to air.
The CMG made its own case at the CRTC at the beginning of the month, calling for more funding and tighter rules requiring news on television.
“It is easy enough on any news platform to find out the latest from the Middle East at any given time of day. But finding out what’s happening at your local municipal council is next to impossible,” CMG national president Lise Lareau told the CRTC. “We can tell you that the number of people paid to do this reporting work has dropped significantly in the last decade. In the CBC’s case, that’s because of dwindling public funding. In the case of the private broadcasters, it’s because profits are being chased elsewhere.