As journalists, it is sometimes easy to get swept up in a sense of self-importance.
There are a lot of romanticized ideas about the role journalists serve in a society as a check to power and a voice for the general public.
In some spheres, reporters are cast as heroic figures who stand for the public’s interest; in others, they are shown in a less sympathetic light as leeches and nuisances whose nosiness blows an important investigation or ruins a life.
The dramatic representations of what journalists do misrepresent the profession.
This job more often than not is inglorious and unstable, but that doesn’t make reporters less important in the bigger picture.
Journalists and the public were reminded of this fact on Thursday when the country’s national broadcaster, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation/Radio-Canada, announced that it would be laying off more than 650 employees and halting expansion into new communities. Much can be said about the CBC, good and negative, but the most important thing is that in a time of increasing partisanship in the media and the houses of government, a strong public broadcaster that serves the taxpayers who fund it is vital to a fair and representative society.
In recent memory, it’s possible to cite several key stories published or broken by the CBC that have contributed to a better society.
A story on diluted chemotherapy drugs and a fantastic fifth estate feature on an anti-science agenda being run by the federal government (Silence of the Labs) are two recent, fantastic examples of important work done by the national broadcaster that may not be possible now that their workforce has been so noticeably cut back.
Of course, the CBC is not without some share of blame. A flawed business model that relied far too heavily on a single program (Hockey Night in Canada) was doomed to fail.
But it is to be hoped that, given the important role the CBC plays in Canadian society, further cuts are not required and the broadcaster can and does carry on.
All Times-Herald editorials are written by the editorial staff.