Happy New Year and farewell. I have published my last review, and now I want to say goodbye and thank you. Thank you to all of you who care about journalism in Canada, who operate on the assumption that we have a common goal–to hold CBC journalism to account and to together understand and support journalistic excellence.
In my reviews, my first task was always to assess whether CBC journalists had lived up to their stated standards. I aIso saw my role as helping you and the journalists understand the journalistic process, the challenges and the impediments to making it as fair, honest and open as it might be. I hope, along the way, I have imparted ideas and experience that have been useful to your understanding of the importance of journalism to citizenship and democracy.
CBC, along with all journalists dedicated to public good, face significant challenges in our current environment. We face the task of defining that discourse in a divided and angry world. The challenge is to identify the gray space–the places where there are no villains or heroes, no political correctness or nativist knuckle dragging, but well-meaning and honest people who are confused and a little bit scared. As the public broadcaster, it is CBC’s duty to find that space and facilitate that conversation, and to help evolve a new consensus about who we are, or at the very least how we might talk to each other.
I have to be honest–it seems a harder task than it did six years ago when I began. There is an anger, a default of blame and assuming the worst that is saddening and puzzling. In her novel, Autumn, a state of the nation novel published shortly after the Brexit vote in Britain, Ali Smith observes – “It has become a time of people saying stuff to each other and none of it actually ever becoming dialogue. It is the end of dialogue.” Please don’t let that happen. Please listen to each other. Please allow for differences expressed in good faith, and ideas that make you uncomfortable.
Jack Nagler will take over this office and this space. I know he will provide thoughtful analysis of what CBC journalists are doing right and wrong. Please help him carry on this civil and critical dialogue.