CBC’s Tandem shows broadcaster has lost its way, former top editor says


By Alex Boyd Calgary Bureau

December 5, 2020

Canada’s public broadcaster has moved to address concerns about a controversial new advertising initiative that has outraged some employees past and present.

But, a former top CBC editor says the steps aren’t nearly enough, and has become the latest to add his voice to the critical chorus.

In Jeffrey Dvorkin’s view, his former employer has lost its way and is now trying to slap a Band-Aid on a wound that goes much deeper.

“CBC is just watering everything down and looking for ways to prop up a failed vision of what a public broadcaster ought to be,” Dvorkin, former managing editor and chief journalist of CBC Radio, said Friday.

Now a senior fellow at Massey College in Toronto, Dvorkin is just one of the high-profile former employees who has spoken out against the new initiative.

Unveiled this fall, what’s known as Tandem would see CBC produce content for corporate clients in a plan that management has argued is completely separate from the broadcaster’s journalistic work.

The CBC says it has been offering branded content “for many years, as have other media outlets around the world.”

But in an industry where a firewall that keeps reporting on one side and advertising and business interests on the other has long been seen as a key part of independent, ethical journalism, critics argue this blurs the line.

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