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Celebrating 25 years of CBC News Network

Categories: Canada, Journalism

(Photo: CBC)

Birthdays are a wonderful chance to celebrate.

Most people embrace the opportunity to get together in celebration with friends and family.

Here at CBC News, we're celebrating a big birthday. One of our "youngsters" is turning 25, and we couldn't be more proud.

CBC News Network, or CBC Newsworld as it was then known, went on air July 31, 1989.

Back at that time, Joan Donaldson, the founding head of Canada's first all-news television network described the idea this way: "We'll be your eyes on Canada."  Joan's vision and those working alongside her in the early days, witnessed the beginning of a special relationship with Canada and Canadians.

Now, in July of 2014, as with any birthday, this is a chance for us to take a moment to marvel at how much the network has grown and to dream about what its future holds.

The network had to grow up fast. Just months after going on air, unbelievable horror rocked L'Ecole Polytechnique in Montreal. We quickly learned that one of CBC Newsworld's biggest strengths would be our reporters and bureaux across the country and around the world. We called on them that violent December night, and we've called on them to bring their excellence to breaking news stories ever since.

The Meech Lake Accord, the Oka crisis, the Westray coal mine disaster, OJ Simpson, the death of Diana, 9/11, two Gulf Wars. These are just some of the stories CBC News Network has brought to Canadians through the eyes and ears of our journalists across the country and around the world. Twenty-five years of federal and provincial elections, referendums,
Canada Day, Remembrance Day, Olympic Games and World Cups. Weddings, funerals and life in between. It's all been on the CBC's all-news network.

Back in the early days, when CBC Newsworld was taking its first steps, the original slogan was "Join the World in Progress".  On CBC News Network, at the age of 25, we're just "on it".  It's not about joining something, it's about being part of something. The live, breaking news experience of a fast-moving world in which information is available so quickly and in so
many different ways.

Speaking of change, it was not long after the network launched, that a small group of staff got together and started working on a presence on this new thing we called the World Wide Web. By the late 1990s, CBC Newsworld Online was launched. It was the forerunner for www.cbcnews.ca, one of the earliest and most successful news websites in Canada.

Consider also how CBC News Network has grown and expanded its ability to be live and on top of what ever is happening in Canada and the World. Today, CBC News Network broadcasts and responds to news 24 hours a day, seven days a week.  The number of live hours of coverage has more than doubled - almost tripled! - since the network's infancy.

Looking back across the stories and events that CBC News Network has covered over this past quarter century, it's clear what an essential service it has been to Canadians.  There's no doubt that none of this service would ever have been possible without the people of CBC News who have worked either exclusively or in part for the network. Often making significant personal sacrifice, they have worked all kinds of crazy hours and through what are often emotional or terrifying stories to bring Canadians breaking news as it happens.

There's no doubt either that our viewers have been alongside us throughout this journey. Over 25 years of coverage, the number of Canadians who turn to CBC News Network have continued to grow and grow in numbers. For that, we are exceedingly grateful.

Right now, many of our staff are working through the summer to take the network to the next level. If you want to see what they have in store, you'll have to tune in, as we begin the next 25 years of breaking news to Canadians on CBC News Network.

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