Friday May 26, 2017

Does public broadcasting have a future?

Barry MacDonald, the first station manager of CBC's Sydney bureau, in the control room of the station on the day it opened on Nov. 1, 1948.

Barry MacDonald, the first station manager of CBC's Sydney bureau, in the control room of the station on the day it opened on Nov. 1, 1948. (CBC Still Photo Collection)

Listen to Full Episode 54:00

It seems the idea of public service journalism is under fire everywhere. So three major public broadcasters came together to talk about their collective future at a forum held in Toronto by the Canadian Journalism Foundation: Jennifer McGuire, General Manager and Editor-in-Chief of CBC News, James Harding, Director of News and Current Affairs of the BBC, and Michael Oreskes, Senior Vice-President of News and Editorial Director of NPR. The discussion was moderated by Simon Houpt of The Globe and Mail.


In an increasingly fractured, crowded and competitive media environment, what is the role of the public broadcaster when it comes to news? How to attract a new generation of audiences and retain existing ones? What innovations bode well for the future of news?

Canadian Journalism Foundation - Public Broadcasting Panel

Left to right: Simon Houpt, James Harding, Jennifer McGuire, Michael Oreskes


  • James Harding joined the BBC as Director of News and Current Affairs in 2013. Prior to this appointment James was Editor of The Times from December 2007 to December 2012, having joined the paper in 2006 as Business & City Editor. James worked at the Financial Times for several years, as Washington bureau chief from 2002-2004 and before that as the media editor. Between 1996 and 1999, he was a correspondent in China, where he opened the Shanghai bureau for the FT – the first European newspaper to open an office in the city since the 1949 revolution. Born in London in 1969, James studied History at Trinity College, Cambridge. He speaks Japanese, Chinese, French and German.
  • Jennifer McGuire has been the General Manager and Editor-in-Chief of CBC News since 2009. McGuire is responsible for: CBC News Network; all news programming on CBC Television and Radio;; and all digital and mobile applications of CBC News including CBC News Airport Express services. Formerly executive director of CBC Radio, McGuire was responsible for all of CBC radio services. Prior to accepting the position of Executive Director, CBC Radio, McGuire served as the Executive Director of Programming for CBC Radio. Before that, McGuire served as acting head of CBC Radio current affairs. The Current, Q, Wiretap and other successful radio programs were created under her leadership. Rounding out her extensive leadership experience, McGuire also has a successful programming background in television and radio. McGuire started her CBC career at CBC Radio in Ottawa.
  • Michael Oreskes is NPR's Senior Vice President of News and Editorial Director. Oreskes has 40 years of professional journalism experience, ranging from reporter to senior managing editor, and expertise in shepherding the transition of traditional media to multi-media enterprises. Since joining NPR in 2015, Oreskes has reinvigorated the connections between the newsrooms of NPR and Member stations, expanding reporting on local statehouses and launching groundbreaking forays into the podcast space, with hits such as the NPR Politics podcast and Embedded. Prior to NPR, Oreskes served for seven years with The Associated Press, where he also coordinated closely with member newspapers and broadcasters of the AP for more collaborative journalism tailored to respond to regional and local news. Oreskes has also served as Executive Editor at The International Herald Tribune , Deputy Managing Editor/Assistant Managing Editor at The New York Times. Previously, as Washington Bureau Chief, he led the team to three Pulitzer prizes, and oversaw the development of television and internet projects. During his two decades at the Times he had many roles, including Chief Political Correspondent, Metropolitan Editor and City Editor. Oreskes is co-author (with Eric Lane) of The Genius of America, How the Constitution Saved Our Country and Why It Can Again and has written for publications including the American Journalism Review, Harvard International Journal of Press/Politics and Insights on Law & Society. 


  • Simon Houpt is The Globe and Mail's senior media writer, charged with covering the industry's transformation. He began his career with The Globe in 1999 as the paper's New York arts correspondent, covering the cultural life of that city through Canadian eyes. After 10 years on the beat, including six as a weekly columnist, he returned to the Globe's Toronto news room in the summer of 2009 to join the Report on Business as its advertising and marketing reporter. Prior to The Globe, Houpt worked on the CBC-TV new media current affairs show Undercurrents. He is the author of Museum of the Missing: A History of Art Theft.

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