By Mari Ito
When 5,500 CBC workers went on strike in August, 27 Ryerson journalism students were also locked out of their fall internships at the national broadcaster’s studios.
According to Peter McNelly, the broadcasting internship co-ordinator at the School of Journalism, only a few of the students originally scheduled to begin their six-week CBC internships sometime this semester have made alternative arrangements.
Others have enrolled in a required television masthead course and are hoping the lockout will end soon.
“We are not in crisis mode yet,” says McNelly, “but if this was my internship, I’d be working the phones, trying to arrange something else. Some students are taking a calculated risk by waiting to see what happens at the CBC.”
One of the main issues on the negotiating table between CBC’s employees and managers is the move to hire more contractual employees rather than full-time staff.
There are approximately 20 issues left to resolve before anchors, reporters, technicians and other staff members can return to their jobs.
Irene Kuan, a fourth-year broadcast journalism student, says many of her classmates do not want to give up their CBC internships just yet.
“I think a few people were reluctant to go elsewhere…they had worked so hard and waited so long for the CBC internships that nowhere else seemed worth it.”
Kuan decided to take her chances at Toronto Unlocked, a two-hour daily local morning program, broadcast on the University of Toronto’s CIUT 89.5 FM.
Toronto Unlocked is a collaborative effort between the CIUT staff and Andy Barrie, locked out host of CBC Radio’s Metro Morning, along with a team of CBC producers and technicians.
However, Kuan left the show after the first week and decided to go back to school.
“Although the staff tried really hard to accommodate my needs, there was just way too much chaos going on for me to get a fulfilling experience,” she says.
According to McNelly, CBC had accepted a record number of Ryerson interns this year before the lockout.
“CBC radio got much more involved with our internship program this year and that created more internship opportunities. In the past two years, the number of students doing CBC internships was much lower,” he says.
That creates an even bigger problem as the deadline for finding a replacement internship approaches.
Even if the lockout ends as late as November, McNelly says students can still intern at the CBC and extend their required six weeks into early spring.
“Ultimately, it’s up to the student to find his or her own internship and deal with the problems that may arise. The course outline indicates that,” says McNelly.
Kristen Yu, a fourth-year broadcasting journalism student, agrees.
“No one will be there to babysit us when we graduate and enter the work force. It’s all part of the experience.”