Thursday, February 19, 2009

Media: Humanity from the CBC

TORONTO, ONTARIO - This morning, those of us in Canada's largest city found out why we have been without our #1-rated morning radio host since November. On CBC Radio One's Metro Morning, guest host Jane Hawtin announced that Dr. Mary Barrie had died yesterday. Her husband, normal morning host Andy Barrie, had gone on leave to care for her during what proved to be a terminal battle with cancer.

The fact that the CBC had allowed Barrie to go on leave for four months--and potentially much longer than that--is striking. Sure, media organizations prefer to hang on to top-rated talent, but I couldn't think of a single similar case in the United States. National Public Radio never gave Bob Edwards any extended leave the entire time he was with the organization, if I am not mistaken, and I have a hard time imagining them doing that for anyone else, either. I suppose they have allowed Liane Hansen to take extended leave in a similar somewhat situation to Barrie's, but she hosts a Sunday-only program, not a daily program on weekdays. Commercial radio is even worse--it's hard to imagine KCBS allowing Stan Bunger to go on extended leave, or WBBM allowing Felicia Middlebrooks to disappear.

In general, Canadians take families much more seriously than those in the United States. On holidays like Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas, people expect to be with their families, and companies expect them to travel as needed to reach them. At some level, it didn't surprise me at all that the CBC would allow Barrie to take leave; that kind of family-first attitude is the norm in Canada rather than the exception.

I would even go further and say that Canadians fundamentally treat each other more humanely than Americans. When I became unemployed, my landlords immediately engaged in a dialog about what would be appropriate to do with rent increases. In a similar situation in the United States, a landlord basically told me to move out at the end of the lease and raised the rent substantially for any further renewals to make it clear that I was no longer a desirable tenant. Perhaps the relative strengths of the housing markets was a factor, but I have a feeling I would have gotten the same treatment now in the US, and the same treatment in Canada in an upturn.

If money is involved, Americans cut each other no slack, no matter if family is involved or not. In Canada, sympathy and empathy still exist--though as American influence continues, one wonders for how long.

1 comment:

brm2000 said...

Lance that communitarian experience in Canada is not going to go away soon. I think that in the US, we may see some of that return as things get bad there, like it used to be. As well, the medical system has allot to do about it. I think this article may illustrate the point more didacticaly. As well it is a cultural thing that is ingrained by all of the new immigrants that come in to Canada, who ususally have strong family traditions. At least your family has them from what I can see! http://economix.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/02/19/canada-angles-of-deflection/?scp=4&sq=canada&st=cse