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Letter to CBC President regarding correspondents Don Murray and Patrick Brown

Oct 20, 2008

To: Hubert Lacroix, CBC President

Copies to:
Richard Stursberg, Vice-President, English Television
John Cruickshank, Publisher, CBC News and Current Affairs

Sir,

While we realize CBC is facing budgetary pressures, and that resources are increasingly precious, we do not understand the decision of senior management to cashier Don Murray and Patrick Brown.

First, it is clear they both received a long-term commitment from CBC when they relinquished staff status and signed their contracts. It is not reassuring to see CBC renege on that commitment after just a few years.

But even more dismaying, our reporting bench loses a lot of heft without them. There is no way around that fact. These are journalists who in many ways defined foreign reporting at CBC in the past few decades. Some of us grew up watching them. And we remind you they are among the very few who have risen to the task of serving both English- and French-speaking audiences, something you have said must continue.

Don has worked in nearly all our bureaux. He is a foreign policy expert. And there is no better war correspondent in Canada than Patrick Brown. To let that kind of expertise walk out the door in an effort to save a tiny fraction of our payroll is baffling, especially given the resources CBC has poured into developing them over the years.

Canadians may not be focused on foreign news at the moment. But there will be other cataclysmic upheavals, and there will be more wars, and we would suggest that while they are willing and able, it would be good to have Don and Patrick available to go out the door.

Any of us who has worked with them in hostile environments understands the value of the experience they bring to the job. This is not boilerplate or obligatory collegial praise, sir. This is a group of your most senior journalists telling you our news service is losing crucial gravitas.

And it would be dispiriting, to say the least, to hear them reporting on the other network. CTV has already scooped up some of our better correspondents. Let’s not offer them two of our icons.

Yours truly,
 
Adrienne Arsenault, CBC TV News
Nahlah Ayed, CBC TV News
Peter Armstrong, CBC TV
Keith Boag, CBC TV
Susan Bonner, CBC TV
Michael Colton, CBC Radio
David Common, CBC TV
Michel Cormier, Radio Canada
Margaret Evans, CBC Radio
Celine Galipeau, Radio Canada
Guy Gendron, Radio Canada
Anthony Germaine, CBC Radio
David Halton, CBC TV (Retired)
Jean-Francois Lepine, Radio Canada
Neil Macdonald, CBC TV
Rick MacInnes Rae, CBC Radio
Peter Mansbridge, CBC TV
David McGuffin, CBC TV News
Terry Milewski, CBC TV
Joyce Napier, Radio Canada
Raymond Saint Pierre, Radio Canada
Joe Schlesinger, CBC TV
Alison Smith, CBC TV
Brian Stewart, CBC TV
Connie Watson, CBC Radio
Jennifer Westaway, CBC Radio