How I feel about my CBC: A Saint John resident on local radio
- May 28, 2009 3:33 PM |
- By Your Voice
Submitted by Nathalie Godbout
About: I'm a lawyer from Saint John, New Brunswick.
My take: Every morning starts the same way. I start tuning in at 6:10 a.m. or so, and wait impatiently for the national news to end and that familiar anthem to begin. You know the one I'm talking about; that catchy little tune that starts every morning broadcast with Steven Webb and Rachel Cave. I can't find a word to describe it. I just know that with the start of that captivating little melody, I'm about to find out what's happening in our little corner of the world.
Now imagine a morning that doesn't start that way.
You can feel it in the air, it has been playing out for weeks. Everyone's been talking about it. What will happen to CBC Radio Saint John? Who will get their "notice?" This first round of cuts has led to the loss of four positions here at CBC Radio Saint John. But will this be the last round of cuts? What about next year's budget? Will all the familiar voices still be on the air next year at this time? Or will the voices of people we care about suddenly go silent? Who will do the reporting? Get the stories? Who will promote local arts, culture, and important causes? Will there still be Harbour Lights campaign? If not, who on earth will raise the countless dollars needed to help feed our local, poverty-stricken families?
I've been a CBC radio listener for as long as I can remember. It started when I was a kid growing up in Grand Falls. My mom was a CBC Radio Saint John junkie (still is, only now she listens in Moncton.) When she found herself living in Saskatchewan for four years, she would listen to our CBC Radio remotely and would feel closer to home. As for myself, I am amazed at how much I have learned about my country, my province and my city just by listening to CBC's intelligent programming and local, current affairs shows such as Information Morning and Shift.
We may not be conscious of it, but most of us count on CBC Radio to tell us what's going on. And why shouldn't we? It is, after all, your tax dollars at work; a non-profit news outlet committed to questioning and investigating government, big business, and interest groups. CBC Radio helps hold many folks and industry leaders accountable. CBC Radio challenges the status quo and makes us ask questions. It makes us all better.
In Saint John, our situation is all the more unique in that investigative journalism happens only at the hands of either the Brunswick News group of companies (Telegraph Journal and others) OR through the work of CBC Radio. A 2006 Senate Report on media concentration in Canada found that the situation in N.B. was quite unique. With more cuts to CBC Radio, there could effectively be only one set of eyes left on any given story not a great day for investigative journalism (all due respect to the TJ).
With fewer people digging for the stories, we would be left hearing less about those local things that matter: delays at Lepreau, changes at UNBSJ, deadly speeding on Heather Way, a tuberculosis outbreak in Sussex, clean-up at Marsh Creek, the death of Gordon Fairweather, the gas guru, the doctor shortage at the ER, high school musicals, overcrowding at Samuel de Champlain school, treacherous ice-slicked city sidewalks, dried-out wells in Penobsquis, the cancelling of Oh Canada at Belleisle Elementary, the sale of the Lantic Sugar site, the shortfall of Q-Plex funding, I could go on.
No doubt some will say that cutbacks are a reality in this time of recession. I get it. But each of us as taxpayers fund the CBC. So ask yourself: if you contribute equally to CBC funding with your tax dollars, shouldn't you be getting the same coverage and services from CBC Radio as say folks living in Vancouver and Toronto? Or would it be alright to wake up every morning to news being fed to us from Halifax or central Canada?
Also, CBC is a Crown Corporation funded by taxpayers. Has anyone yet heard a decent explanation of the decision to cut services at CBC Radio Saint John? I haven't. Rural stations such as ours are being impacted the most. Why? Is CBC Radio serving all taxpayers, or just those living in densely populated regions of the country? CBC Radio has made it clear that once these cuts are made, they will never be restored. Doesn't sound to me like a temporary fix due to an economic downturn.
Something much bigger is at play.
If Saint John is indeed growing into a powerhouse city and energy hub, then CBC Radio Saint John is the programming medium that markets Southern New Brunswick to the nation. It covers important issues from Sussex to St. Stephen, and well into Maine stories that have repercussions closer to home. CBC management plays down the impact of these cuts, saying that the remaining staff will be able to provide good service.
Can we really be expected to believe that the same quality and substance could be delivered with fewer staff?
I hope that CBC Radio Saint John fans will continue to seek out opportunities to voice their support and their concerns. Next year is not that far away. CBC national Management is no doubt talking about next year's budget now, and our federal government will soon be doing the same.
The time to speak out is most certainly right now.
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