The Battle of the Newsfeed – an inside look from CBC Montreal

When it comes to posting to our social media feeds, one of the biggest challenges is to find ways to stand out in the increasing flood of tweets, posts and constant notifications. As the Community Editor for CBC Montreal, I help ensure that our community is aware of what the team here is working on, not only in the newsroom, but also what events we’re hosting and our work in the community.

In our business, there are certain stories that we know will take-off on social media. Breaking news stories are often quick to draw attention and be retweeted and shared by our online audience. Getting the audience’s attention on other stories or special projects can be far more challenging.

Using images to get attention in newsfeeds is one approach. We’re working on ways to develop our own creative images to give our audience even more.

Recently, our Montreal radio morning show, Daybreak, organized a special broadcast for Black History Month. Obviously, we wanted to get the word out. The researcher pulled quotes from their pre-interviews and asked guests for photos that we could use to promote the broadcast beforehand. I designed a theme that we could use to promote the event that put the faces of the community and their words front and centre.

Often, a promotional post can fall flat. This series of posts had excellent engagement, and were shared more widely than many of our regular news posts that week. I think this is due to the creative that helped tell the story in a social media friendly way.

We’re using this approach more-and-more often. In the last few weeks we have put together campaigns for social media to promote a photo contest and a Canada Reads remote for Homerun, our drive home show. In these cases, coming up with a strong visual to deliver the message we want to deliver has worked very well.

With Facebook and Twitter now quickly making video a top priority, there will be even more opportunities for us experiment with creative ways to get the message out. If you’re interested in seeing what we’re working on at CBC Montreal, you can follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

-Thomas Ledwell, CBC Montreal Community Editor

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CBC/Radio-Canada in their DNA: three generations of CBCers

This is the second in a series of interviews with multigenerational families of CBCers. Read the first article here.

Today, the story of mother and daughter Julie Pagé and Sarah Ouellette , and the uncle who inspired their career paths.

Working life at CBC/Radio-Canada

Julie: I began my career at CBC/Radio-Canada in October 1988. After finishing my communications degree with a specialty in television at Promedia School in Montreal, I was hired as a journalist at CBXFT, CBC/Radio-Canada’s French-language TV station in Edmonton, Alberta. From TV and radio reporter to anchor for Alberta ce soir and the Western edition of Canada Aujourd’hui on RDI, my great Albertan adventure lasted 15 years. In 2003, I decided to move my little family to the Ottawa area. From senior researcher and content producer for Le téléjournal Ottawa-Gatineau, to starting in May 2014 as a media relations and issues management consultant at Corporate Communications, I’m proud of the road I’ve travelled.

“What I love above all else at CBC/Radio-Canada are the people.” – Julie

In 26 years working for the national public broadcaster, I’ve crossed paths with some extraordinary individuals, passionate and highly talented broadcast artists who inspire us for their intelligence, their insatiable curiosity, their tireless work, their flair, and their unconditional support. At their side, I’ve learned a lot and I’m still learning. It’s no coincidence that CBC/Radio-Canada is Canada’s 13th most influential brand on the Ipsos Reid list for 2014. For me and a great many Canadians, the Corporation will always be about excellence, rigour, questioning the status quo, and outdoing yourself.

Sarah: I started working at ICI Radio-Canada Ottawa-Gatineau in 2012, when I was 18. I’d just completed an internship at Radio-Canada to finish up my college diploma in the TV production program at La Cité in Ottawa. I’ve been here ever since. I’m currently a production assistant for the 6 p.m. Téléjournal Ottawa-Gatineau. I work throughout the day on putting together the newscast. Then, when we’re recording live, I’m the timekeeper. I count down all news items on the show along with anchor and reporter segments so everything fits into the hour we have for our program. More specifically, I’m the producer’s right arm. What I like most about my work is the adrenaline that comes with live production. I love working on a team and I work well under pressure. Live production can, however, be challenging, but as I said, the adrenaline we get from the stress is what keeps us going and helps us work even harder to deliver a great newscast.

Working at CBC/Radio-Canada: it’s a family affair

Sarah: Both my parents have worked at CBC/Radio-Canada, and my mother still does. I was often by her side in the newsroom and control room when I was young, and I was always impressed by the production assistant’s job. My mother was a journalist, then an anchor, and my father was a producer. Later on, my mother became a producer as well. So I followed in my parents’ footsteps.

“As Obelix would say, I fell into it when I was little . . .” – Sarah

Julie: The reason I’m working in this field today and love the public broadcaster so much is that I was lucky to be exposed to it at a very young age. At home, Radio-Canada’s TV and radio services were a huge part of our lives. And my uncle Victor Désy, who had a long and distinguished career with CBC/Radio-Canada, had a big influence on me. I’m happy to be able to pay tribute to him today. First, he left his mark on the hearts and minds of kids playing various roles on La boîte à surprise alongside Sol and Pirate Maboule. Then, we got to witness his tremendous talent on various soaps and drama series (Cormoran, La petite patrie, Mont-Joye, Lance et compte, Flappers, etc.). I remember running home after school to watch him on TV, and the next day I’d be so proud to tell my teachers he was my uncle!

One day when I was still a kid, Victor took me along to a TV set. That was it for me. I knew right there that I wanted to work in the field and join the big CBC family. And I kept my word . . . The rest, as they say, is history.

And, several years later, when I was anchoring Alberta ce soir, I liked to bring my kids Francis and Sarah in from time to time so they could watch us go to air. One day, my daughter Sarah, who was sitting in the control room near the production assistant, spoke into my telex during the newscast. In her little girl’s voice, she said, “in 10 seconds, Mommy.” I replied that one day she would do that job. And again, that dream has come true. After studying TV production and communications, three years ago Sarah became production assistant for Le téléjournal Ottawa-Gatineau, and I’m so proud! She’s going to go far! There you have it: three generations of CBCers with very different career paths, but who all have the public broadcaster in their DNA.

Pride in the public broadcaster: a recurring theme

When asked separately what CBC/Radio-Canada means to them, here’s what they said:

Julie: Unique, Pride, Reliable source.

Sarah: Pride, Strength, Public.

“No other Canadian broadcaster informs, enlightens and entertains like CBC/Radio-Canada does. Its diverse, creative, high-quality content, its devoted broadcast artists, its national and international reputation, and its remarkable determination to transform itself over time to adapt to sweeping technological change while also remaining relevant – these are all a source of great pride to me.” – Julie

Saying you work at CBC/Radio-Canada: another source of pride

Julie: When people ask me where I work, with the same sense of pride I had back in 1988, I reply that I work at CBC/Radio-Canada. Naturally, when I say that they’re surprised, enthusiastic, and even envious – but also concerned these days. The public broadcaster is facing a number of challenges, as the whole industry is going through a major upheaval. But since it’s weathered many a storm these past few decades, I truly believe that it will find a way to overcome the obstacles once again. And if it continues to deliver intelligent, relevant, bold and distinctive content, it will retain its crucial role with Canadians and generations to come. Long live the public broadcaster!

Sarah: When people ask me where I work, I’m always proud to say CBC/Radio-Canada. Plus, given my young age, they’re always surprised to see that I knew very young what I wanted to do, and where I am today. Sometimes people even say they “envy” me because I work at CBC/Radio-Canada. I’m very grateful.

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Happy birthday to Radio Canada International, in all its languages!

rci-manchette-enSince February 25, 1945, Radio Canada International has been telling the world about Canada. The adventure originally began on shortwave, and it continues today on the web.

In its 70 years on the air, Radio Canada International has broadcast in a total of 23 languages. Web users and listeners on all five continents now hear and interact with us in the world’s five more spoken languages –English, French, Spanish, Mandarin, and Arabic.

For RCI Editor in Chief Soleïman Mellali, one aspect of Radio Canada International’s mandate remains unchanged, and that is helping those who know little or nothing about Canada to learn about and, more specifically, understand the realities of Canadian society, as well as its cultural and democratic values.

From February 23 to 27, invites us to travel back in time and through Canada’s diversity. I plan on visiting the site to learn all about a cornerstone in our country’s and the public broadcaster’s history, and also get to know RCI as it is today, a forum for sharing and discussion with web users around the globe.

At age 70, RCI remains multilingual and is more connected than ever!

Jacinthe Lacombe-Cliche, Senior Writer, Corporate Communications

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Translating technology into time savings

As someone who follows emerging technologies, translator Jonathan Kotcheff immediately understood the potential benefits for his team when CBC/Radio-Canada went Google. He recognized that Linguistic Services could use a Google site to create a message board for questions, have a forum to exchange ideas and start conversations, and a place to post reference documents and links. Jonathan took the initiative to create this site himself, putting his technical knowledge to work for the benefit of his colleagues and their clients.

jonathanJonathan also figured out a way to provide his team with better access to their archives. Their “bitext system” tracks English and French text that the team has translated in the past, and allows them to determine if a new translation request includes text they have already dealt with. The database is not accessible remotely, except through one departmental laptop. Until recently, this was a source of frustration for translators on call for last-minute translations. Without access to the archives, a translator might have to translate more text than was necessary.

By uploading the bitexts to Drive, Jonathan has given his team remote access to these archives, making it easy to search them when off-site. It’s an improvement that colleague Miguelle Saulnier-Madore says is “nothing short of a revolution,” and helps her and her colleagues “steer clear of many nasty headaches!”

Jonathan tackled these projects on his own initiative, above and beyond his daily work as a translator. And he’s not done yet. He’s currently working on a new system for managing translation requests that will make it easier to track the documents handled throughout the day. Given the volume of translations Jonathan’s team handles, this next project is sure to be much appreciated also. His efforts are an example of how one person’s initiative can have a positive impact on the whole team.

- Melanie Miles, Writer/Editor, Corporate Communications

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Digital is a win for CBC News and its audience

After I recently spoke with Brodie Fenlon, Managing Editor of, he shared another example of how the digital strategy for CBC News opens up whole new ways to connect regions of the country to one another, tell our stories and engage our audiences.

In October, CBC Nova Scotia did a “Day in the Life of Nova Scotia.” And what’s interesting is they reprised an old idea that had been done many years before, on broadcast. The idea was to capture in photos a day in the life of average Nova Scotians.

But now, in this era of social media, they were able to tap into the social web. They promoted a hashtag (#DayintheLifeNS), and then they just captured everything during the course of a day.

They were inundated with stuff coming from across the province: people sending them photos and selfies, videos, a shot inside a cockpit, a brain surgery… I mean, the entire day was captured in thousands of images. They had all kinds of stories come out of the project. They had features, and they created a beautiful documentary for TV.

Local audiences were able to connect instantly with the experiences and stories of fellow Nova Scotians in every corner of the province. And we reached perhaps more people than we could ever have reached before outside of the digital world. Canadians across the country were also able to follow the project and learn about and celebrate the rich tapestry of life in Nova Scotia.

This is just another example off the top of my head. We’ve been telling great stories for years and years, but suddenly digital opens up whole new ways to tell them and whole new audiences, and I think people are getting excited about that.

I mean, I think everyone wants to be on this platform, they realize that, especially for journalists, there are so many options for telling a story. Audiences are able to connect with more of the story through video clips, visual elements, graphics, and commentary, and they can look at as much or as little as they want.

So for anybody who cares about journalism and reaching a broad audience and making an impact, digital is a win. It’s a fantastic way to bring Canada’s stories to Canadians, let them interact with the stories we’re telling, and connect with each other through them.

- Elizabeth Forster, Client Services Advisor, Corporate Communications

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The Canadian Broadcast Centre in Toronto is a 2015 Smart Commute Gold Workplace

The City of Toronto’s Smart Commute program has named the Canadian Broadcast Centre in Toronto a Smart Commute Gold Workplace for 2015.

“The Gold status [is awarded] to organizations that have demonstrated their commitment to promoting and supporting sustainable travel options for their employees,’’ says Bruce McCuaig, President and CEO of Metrolinx, the Government of Ontario agency that manages the Smart Commute program.

According to Athena Trastelis, who leads environment-related activities at CBC/Radio-Canada, our Toronto programs are successful because staff is committed to greener commutes.

graph enHere are some highlights from Toronto:

  • Last year, more than 88% of employees chose to use more sustainable transport options to get to work.
  • Over 250 CBC/Radio-Canada cycling enthusiasts are members of the local  Bicycle User Group (BUG), a community that connects users to share information and discuss improving conditions for commuter cycling.
  • As a workplace, we participated in various programs, including Clean Air Commute programs, Bike to Work Week, Car Free Day, etc.

Fewer emissions. Less money spent on gas. Improved health and well-being. Green commuting makes a lot of sense – no matter where you work and live.

-Emma Bédard, Advisor, Client Services, Corporate Communications

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Person of the Year Gala : Radio-Canada Ottawa-Gatineau

We’re all surrounded by people who excel at what they do and inspire us with their passion, determination and generosity. You can surely name a few yourselves.

In Ottawa-Gatineau, like at all stations across the country, it’s important to celebrate the contribution of these outstanding achievers from the local community.

Once again this year, the Le Droit/Radio-Canada Person of the Year Gala shone the spotlight on people who often work behind the scenes. The evening was a resounding success – and a real inspiration for me.

Some of my personal favourites this year:

Caroline Arcand, founder of Groupe Convex, finds employment for people with physical or intellectual disabilities. Despite a difficult first few years, the company today operates a total of nine social micro-enterprises – thanks in large part to Caroline’s perseverance.

We rarely think about all of the essential work performed by volunteers. For Adrien Desbiens, 81, and wife Géraldine, 77, helping others has always come naturally. This adorable couple has been giving back to the community for over 30 years. Way to go!

The event also honoured Richard Legault, who heads up an international company employing over 420 people. Despite the company’s foreign expansion, he’s always been committed to keeping the headquarters in Gatineau. That’s good news for workers in the region.

This type of evening makes us realize how much we need to hear the stories of people who help make our communities a better place.

You can listen to some of them being interviewed here. The interview is only available in French. I hope they’ll inspire you as well!

- Marie-Eve Desaulniers, Senior Advisor, Brand, Communications and Corporate Affairs

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CBC and ICI Radio-Canada: top influential broadcast media brands in 2014

Both CBC and ICI Radio-Canada were ranked respectively as Canada’s and Quebec’s most influential broadcast media brands in 2014. Read more here.

This kind of recognition, that comes directly from Canadians, is one of the highest honours we could receive, but it does not come as that much of a surprise…

We air more Canadian content than ever – over 90% in primetime last year. And our January audience results show that when it comes to viewer’s appreciation of our programming, we’re off to an even better start in 2015.

Gone are the days of Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy! on CBC Television. The premiere of Book of Negroes drew in an impressive 1.9 million viewers and Schitt’s Creek, 1.5 million. CBC News Network remains the number one national news channel and our digital offer continues to grow with new second screen applications, original web series, tools like Vote Compass and CBC Music. And we have more listeners on the radio than ever, with a record 18.1% market share last fall.

Over the next few weeks, we’ll take a look back at how CBC/Radio-Canada has become the most influential brand in Canadian broadcasting through a series of interviews with multigenerational families of CBCers.

 -Emma Bédard, Advisor, Client Services


Today, we’re hearing from Allison and Susan, taking turns asking and answering questions we sent them.

Allison – Internal communications, Ottawa

Susan (Allison’s Mom) – Production, Halifax

Allison: Tell me about our family history with CBC/Radio-Canada.

Susan: I started working at CBC Halifax in 1979, when you were six months old. When I was growing up, my parents listened/watched to CBC almost exclusively, so I aspired to work there and I think the same thing applied to you, maybe because you often came to work with me?

Allison: I didn’t intentionally follow in your footsteps – we have much different careers – but CBC was such a big part of my growing up that it felt almost natural to end up here. You were a producer, and Dad ran the art department for the Atlantic region. As a kid, I spent a lot of time running around the South Park building in Halifax. I used to love hanging out in the control room, watching you work. You were in your element; I felt inspired.

Allison: I know we’re not the only family to have ties with CBC that span generations. Why do you think that is?

Susan: I think CBC/Radio-Canada runs in families because artistic people often run in families. It’s always been the top place in Canada to go to create and do what you love to do in the broadcast business. So it’s no wonder it attracts people.

Allison: I know working at CBC/Radio-Canada meant a lot to you. What do you think it’ll mean for others 100 years from now?

Susan: I hope that it will mean something similar to what it does now: a place that encourages and nurtures some of the most creative minds in our country.

Susan: What does it mean to you now? Can you sum up in three words what working at CBC/Radio-Canada is like?

Allison: It’s a place I’m proud to be a part of. I know that’s more than three words, sorry!. Can you get it down to three words?

Susan: Best part of my working life. No, I suppose three words just isn’t enough.

Allison: When people ask you where you worked, how does it feel to respond “CBC”?

Susan: I’m proud to tell people where I worked and people always respond with lots of questions. Most of the time they think it was quite exciting that I had the job I had and worked for CBC. Today, people always ask me questions about the direction the company is headed, where I think it’s going and how I feel about the changes its gone through. It sure makes for an interesting conversation.

Susan: Will working at CBC/Radio-Canada keep running in the family?

Allison: Who knows. We always joke about my boys being stand-up comics, maybe one day we’ll be watching them on CBC making the rest of the country laugh.

Stay tuned for more CBC/Radio-Canada family stories. If you have a story you’d like to share, write me at

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Reaching new audiences with the digital strategy for CBC News

I recently spoke with Brodie Fenlon, Managing Editor of, about some of the early wins we’re seeing with the digital strategy for CBC News.

The biggest wins I’m seeing already are in terms of audience reach. The great stories we’ve always told are finding their way to a bigger, broader audience that we may not have been able to reach previously using only our traditional platforms. For instance, at the regional level, we’re seeing more integration of the three platforms (radio, TV, digital) in local newsrooms and more use of current affairs content on our digital platforms, with some surprising results.

In Calgary, they have a pilot project with an Associate Producer attached to their morning show, The Eyeopener. And that person is now looking for stories or good pieces of content that come out of the morning show that could be turned into digital content for the CBC Calgary website. Last week, they took a great interview and wrote it up, published to their site and pushed it out on their social media channels. It got featured on our national news site and the snowball effect happened.

It was a really interesting story about a German Shepherd that had been stolen and its owner who, after 18 months, went to look for a new dog and found his lost dog on a shelter site. So it has all those human interest buttons that make it a shareable story. But really, the win is that suddenly, a piece of current affairs content that comes out of a morning show for a local Calgary audience is available to all Canadians, when, where and how they want it.


It had something like 40,000 Facebook shares, thousands of page views and the audio was also played several thousand times. And in the course of two days, the story reached way beyond Canada’s borders. Within two days, you have Buzzfeed, one of the big American online publishers, calling to seek permission to re-use the photo because they want to do their own version of the story, and they gave credit to CBC News.

It’s a perfect example of what’s happening right across the country. Not only are we doing great stuff for our own audience, which is what our priority and our focus should be — it should be those local markets and building our digital presence locally – but the spin-off benefit of making even more content available to our audiences is really quite amazing.

- Elizabeth Forster, Client Services Advisor, Corporate Communications

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How the CBC Alert Desk helps get news out fast

CBC reporters know how important the Alert Desk is. Acting as a central clearinghouse for confirmed, publishable information, the desk plays a critical role in helping deliver breaking news. “It’s about delivering on our promise to get people the news that matters, fast,” says Senior Producer Carolyn Ryan.

The small team — during peak times, no more than 3 people are working at the desk — are “like air traffic controllers for information,” says Carolyn. They collate information from a vast collection of sources and get it into the hands of our reporters and our audience.

The desk follows dozens of reporters on Twitter, scans all major news sites, monitors the newswires, and regularly checks court and government sites for rulings and news releases. They also surf regional email destinations for the latest-breaking information, and scroll all regional websites for stories that might be of interest elsewhere. The desk then acts as an internal wire system, sharing that information with news staff.

To help reporters get accurate information out as quickly as possible, the Alert Desk provides information about publication bans, transcripts of interviews, and key wording for controversial stories. The desk writes the breaking news ticker on and the slider seen when News Network is on air, and sends mobile and email alerts to subscribers. They also tweet information to more than 445,000 followers on Twitter. If a story breaks close to the hour, Alert Desk staff often write a “rip and read” script that can be grabbed to read on-air.

“Until the Alert Desk was launched,” says Jonathan Whitten, Executive Director, News Content, “there was no quick and efficient way to let all programs, platforms and centres know when news was breaking.” In other words, when one media line or program learned about a story, other media lines or programs might, or might not, get the information. “Critical information would rest in silos for minutes and sometimes hours,” notes Jonathan. That’s not happening today, because the Alert Desk ensures that critical information is shared.

-Melanie Miles, Writer/Editor, Corporate Communications

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