Let me first acknowledge, from my desk in Toronto at the CMG main office, that we are on the traditional territories of the Mississauga of the Credit, the Huron-Wendat, the Anishnawbe and the Haudenosaunee.
As another year of navigating our work and our lives through an ongoing Covid-19 pandemic draws to a close, I’d like to start by sharing some of the experiences fellow CMG members have been coping with over this challenging time.
Many have had to deal with real financial hits this public health crisis has brought, including a loss of full-time jobs and increased precariousness as more media jobs have become temporary.
Those who have continued to do their work, are doing so under more challenging circumstances, whether working from home with additional family responsibilities, or having to take extra care with personal safety in the workplace or in the field, with masks, social distancing and other precautions. Many have had to adjust to continuously shifting schedules and the stresses that entails.
For too many media workers, especially women and journalists of colour, there has been the added hurt caused by violent public attacks via emails and social media.
Through it all, CMG members have worked without interruption to keep the public informed, delivering trusted, quality information.
Our contributions as media workers in these unusual times cannot be overstated. There is much to be proud of.
From my personal vantage point, it has been heartening to see the many ways colleagues have come together to support each other and to collectively forge new paths.
During the pandemic, Canada’s unions have been relentless in fighting to ensure health and safety stays top of mind. CMG continues to work with employers to promote flexible work arrangements, timely access to the tools needed to safely work remotely, and accommodations where necessary. The past year has shown us all that a number of different working models can be successful for employers and workers.
At the same time, our union has continued to advocate for funding policies that ensure strong public broadcasting and news media in Canada.
In 2021, despite travel bans, we also got a chance to hear from each other at CMG’s first virtual convention. Two hundred delegates gathered to set the union’s priorities: Health and safety, job security, fighting against precarious work and systemic racism, and pushing for better
mental health accommodations as well as flexible work arrangements, with financial compensation for the costs incurred when working at home.
As we move into the next phase of work, whatever that may look like, CMG will continue to ensure your health, safety and rights are respected. We will also continue our advocacy work on behalf of members.
A trend we are campaigning to end is the decrease in permanent jobs, and subsequent increase in temporary ones. In many newsrooms there are significant numbers of media professionals locked into temporary positions. This causes economic insecurity and hurts all of us, and the industry in multiple ways.
For example, it is increasingly a known fact that a disproportionate number of diverse media workers are in temporary jobs. A recent Canadian Association of Journalists (CAJ) – Diversity survey reports that non-White journalists are less likely to be working full-time than White colleagues. The full survey paints a sobering picture of the industry’s failure to hire or retain BIPOC workers. Among the findings: 50 percent of Canada’s newsrooms are almost exclusively White; eight in 10 do not employ a single Black or Indigenous journalist; and employers overestimate diversity in their newsroom. We are grateful to our many colleagues who have shown remarkable leadership in speaking up and sharing their experiences on this issue.
There is no question that we all have a lot more to do on this front.
CMG continues to push for accurate diversity data from employers, because we know transparency will be a helpful step toward making real change, and being accountable.
And as part of CMG’s commitments to fight racism, the union has made it mandatory that all volunteers take unconscious bias and anti- racism training. This is meant to empower all of us who do this work to do our part in making our workplaces the fair and positive work environments everyone has the right to expect. To date, several hundred people have taken training. This is also consistent with the spirit of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s report which emphasizes that that media have a critical role to play in reconciliation.
There’s so much to be done still. But as always, we are stronger together, and I am confident that with all of us pulling together, CMG will continue to be an effective, progressive and compassionate union for everyone.
and all the best for the Holiday Season,
Carmel Smyth is an award-wining journalist, and long time reporter/producer for CBC television. She has been elected CMG president 2010-2016 and 2019-current.