I love the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Canada's national radio and TV broadcaster. The CBC's iconic Hockey Night in Canada, world-class news machine, generous arts and entertainment programming, regular weather reports and updates on hog prices provide Canadians with much of the shared experience that makes us a viable country. I know that sounds like hyperbole, but if you're a Canuck you'll know it's true. The CBC defines who we are as a nation. (By the way, the best thing to ever come out of the CBC is The Great Eastern, a brilliantly obscure satirical program that only a Mother Country could love.)
Yesterday the Corpse, as it's called by those who love to hate it, announced across-the-board job cuts that will eliminate 800 positions as the broadcaster tries to cope with a huge shortfall in TV advertising. The crisis is partly due to the current recession, and partly due to the decline of traditional media that's being precipitated by the mass exodus of ad money to the World Wide Web.
For some, this decline is a good thing because it signals the ascendancy of a new paradigm. Information consumers are relying less on conventional sources of content and more on the blossoming world of Web 2.0, where the "user community" generates and shares information for its own benefit, thereby reducing the need for traditional gatekeepers and content producers like the CBC.
As the broken media model spins out of control, journalists are being thrown out of their jobs faster than buggy whip testers.
The corporate world may end up being one of the biggest beneficiaries of this trend because, unlike decaying traditional news media, big companies are on the edge of a renaissance of sophisticated internal communication. It's a revolution being driven by the introduction of Web 2.0 tools into the workplace. Blogs, wikis, social networks and audio and video podcasts are on the edge of full-blown adoption, about to supplant the rusty, dusty intranets of old with an interactive new model that allows for extremely sophisticated communication at an affordable price.
The technology is ready. Management is almost ready to embrace it. Communication managers are seeing the first signs of a Golden Age of employee communication. The fun is finally coming back to our field.
There's one thing lacking, though, and that's writers and editors and producers and camera people who have the skills needed to tell great stories with sound and pictures.
If I were working in a broadcast medium today, I would be keeping my eye out for a career change. If I were a big corporation, I would be looking to hire great broadcasters to bring their valuable skills and experience into my world.
If they play their cards right, the folks getting kicked out of the CBC (and other electronic media) should be able to walk out of a dying business model and into the opportunity of a lifetime.