Every fleet-footed news organization must, from time to time, re-evaluate the demands of a constantly changing news landscape and measure them against the resources it’s able to muster to cover that territory, including the most important of its assets: the journalists on staff.
In the case of CBC Television News, the pressing need for such a review coincided earlier this summer with at least two other factors: continuing budget pressures and the probability of a federal election campaign within a year. The result is a series of personnel moves and reassignments that will take effect in the coming weeks.
The most noticeable for regular CBC-TV viewers will be the installment of Vancouver-based Terry Milewski as the parliamentary bureau’s chief political correspondent in Ottawa, replacing Keith Boag. Milewski has developed a reputation for boldness and courage in the face of political and social pressure. A veteran of CBC reporting from Washington, Jerusalem and elsewhere, he was the target of a complaint of bias from Peter Donolo, then an aide to prime minister Jean Chrétien, during the 1998 Asian Pacific Economic Conference. A subsequent investigation by CBC Ombudsman Marcel Pepin found the complaint to be unjustified and praised Milewski for his “aggressive and critical journalism.” Milewski has also delivered hard-hitting reports on the politics within the Sikh-Canadian community and the tasering of Polish immigrant Robert Dziekanski. He’s the kind of reporter that managers love to have in their stable, despite the fact that he’ll give them his share of administrative headaches from time to time.
Maclean’s senior columnist Paul Wells agrees Milewski’s assignment to Ottawa will help reinvigorate the network’s journalism on the Hill, praising him for his ability to “jump onto the back of a complex, significant story” and “sink his teeth in up to the gums.” Even the departing Boag told the Hill Times that dramatic change is ahead and that Milewski’s impact will be felt.
I confess I don’t quite understand the CBC’s decision to move Boag to Los Angeles. Informal chatter indicates the City of Angels will be as much a staging ground for assignments to places such as Mexico and the western U.S. as it will be the locale for reports from Hollywood and California. I’m skeptical about that kind of journalistic investment, but hope I’m wrong.
Other significant moves, according to the CBC announcement: Evan Solomon replaces the retired broadcasting giant Don Newman on the talk show Politics. It’ll run two hours daily on Newsworld. Meanwhile, Susan Bonner will go from the Ottawa bureau to Washington, to be joined there by Paul Hunter, and David Common will head to New York from Paris.
Update (Aug. 4): This morning, CBC announced additional reassignments, effective this fall. Peter Armstrong will return to Toronto from Jerusalem to anchor the morning news program World Report on Radio One. Meanwhile, Mark Kelley, who has been a correspondent for The National, occasionally also filling in on the anchor desk, will host a two-hour evening news-talk program focused on the day’s breaking news stories. (Sounds a bit like CNN’s Situation Room or Anderson Cooper’s AC360°, no?) Kelley has also been a contributor to the investigative program Disclosure.