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Updated: Thu, 08 May 2014 16:53:18 GMT | By CBC News, cbc.ca

CBC's Alison Smith and Linden MacIntyre leaving public broadcaster



Linden MacIntyre and Alison Smith CBC

Linden MacIntyre and Alison Smith CBC

Alison Smith, a senior correspondent for CBC News and host of CBC Radio's flagship news show The World at Six, has announced she is leaving the public broadcaster at the end of June.

Smith's revelation comes just after CBC colleague Linden MacIntyre announced he would be leaving CBC at the end of the summer.

"It's time. I've been thinking about this for quite a long time and I've had a terrific run. I've been very privileged to have purpose in my life at the CBC, which has been challenging and creative and fulfilling. But it's time now," she told CBC News on Thursday.

"I think I had made up my mind that it's time for me, but then I also saw the cuts that were coming down the road and the effect that it was going to have on so many of our colleagues. It just confirmed for me that this was the right time and it was the right decision for me to make."

B.C.-born Smith began her journalism career covering municipal and provincial politics in Toronto in 1977, before moving onto national affairs and business news for CBC's The National during the 1980s.

Throughout her career, she has served as host of many programs — including This Day, The Lead, Newsworld Reports, Sunday Report and CBC News Morning — and as CBC Television's longtime Washington correspondent, including through the historic election of U.S. President Barack Obama. Smith, who is 59, moved to anchoring The World at Six in 2009.

"This is not a job that you do for financial reward. You do it because of the challenge every day and the interest in the stories and your belief in the corporation and the lively journalism in the country. It's time now for another generation: for new, young, energetic voices to have their say. And it's time for me to go do something different," Smith said.

"I don't want to make more of it than it is. I'm leaving for my own reasons. I realize that the timing has significance and if it sends a message that we have to think hard about the place of a public broadcaster — which I think is very important  — and the opportunity that we need to present to young people, then I'm going to stand behind that."

MacIntyre decision prompted by CBC cuts

Veteran investigative journalist and award-winning author MacIntyre, who has spent nearly four decades at the public broadcaster and 24 years as co-host of the fifth estate, is to leave CBC at the end of August.

The prominent journalist said he made the difficult decision, in part, to take a stand against CBC's recently announced budget cuts, which he believes are having the strongest impact on young reporters and producers.

"I listened to all the bosses talking about the fact that these are cuts that people are going to notice. And then I realized: Probably not, because these are people cuts and these people are anonymous to the public. Their work is not," MacIntyre, 70, told CBC News.

In April, CBC president Hubert Lacroix announced that funding shortfalls and revenue losses had forced CBC/Radio-Canada to cut $130 million from its budget this year. The move necessitated the elimination of 657 jobs over the next two years, a substantial reduction of CBC Sports and affected all sectors of the CBC, from regional news to radio to digital programming.

Among those losing their jobs, "most of them people have never heard of, [but] everybody knows their work," MacIntyre said.

"Maybe one of the 657 should be visible, should be somebody people recognize and maybe [the public] can think about the 657 and perhaps become aware of the fact that an awful lot of the 657 people are young, bright, talented and they represent the future of the CBC.

"If we start losing them at this point, we’re losing the future. It’s a tragedy, it’s a human tragedy and it’s an institutional tragedy and, I suppose it’s not pushing it to say, it’s a national tragedy."

A former print journalist, MacIntyre first joined the CBC in Halifax in 1976. It was during his time at CBC Halifax that MacIntyre launched a legal challenge regarding media access to search warrant documents, heard by the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia.

The case eventually moved up to the Supreme Court of Canada and the landmark ruling set a precedent in support of public and media access to information in Canada.

He has reported from the Middle East, Central America and the then-Soviet Union for CBC News and, during his career, was both a TV and radio host for shows such as The MacIntyre File, The Journal and Sunday Morning. He joined the fifth estate in 1990. For his work, he has won nine Gemini Awards, an International Emmy and the Michener Award for meritorious public service in journalism.

MacIntyre is also a noted writer, winning the 2009 Scotiabank Giller Prize for his novel The Bishop's Man. His other books include novels such as The Long Stretch and Why Men Lie, as well as non-fiction titles such as Who Killed Ty Conn? and Causeway: A Passage From Innocence, his memoir of growing up in Cape Breton.

MacIntyre doesn't consider his departure as retiring "because you don't retire from my kind of job — you move on," he said, adding, "I become self-employed, essentially.

"I've got a lot of work left in me, but I don’t have a lot of potential. I’m fully finished," he said.

"I think that it’s the people with potential that will carry this place forward, or not."

Jim Williamson, executive producer of the fifth estate, called today "a very emotional day at the program."

MacIntyre "is so much a symbol of what's good about the CBC. But he thought a lot, he reflected, he looked around and felt heartbroken at the idea that so many young people would be ushered out the door with these huge cuts. And he made a calculation and said, 'I'm gonna do something and I hope it offsets all the trouble and if it's any help, then that's good.' And it was hard to argue with him."

'National conversation' about CBC

In a speech to the Canadian Club of Montreal earlier this week, Lacroix urged for a "national conversation" about CBC/Radio-Canada's future role, saying it is up to Canadians to decide to support — and to what extent — the public broadcaster.

Canadians pay on average $29 a year for CBC/Radio-Canada, with the country ranking 16th out of the 18 major Western nations in terms of per-capita funding for a public broadcaster, he said.

Lacroix also noted that CBC must revisit its mandate, which is part of the Broadcasting Act.

"If we all believe in public broadcasting, then we need to support it, adjust its mandate to reflect the complexities of the current media environment, and to give it the resources it needs to fulfil that mandate," Lacroix said.

CBC has managed $390 million in financial pressures since 2009 and announced three rounds of staff cuts (more than 2,000 jobs) since he took on the post, he added.

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