Posted in TV

CBC Montreal lays off news director Mary-Jo Barr, promotes reporter Catherine Cullen

Mary-Jo Barr when I met her in 2009.

Mary-Jo Barr when I met her in 2009.

The drastic job cuts at CBC now have at least one local face. Mary-Jo Barr, news director for English services in Montreal, was let go this week as her position has been eliminated.

“I am restructuring the management team here at CBC Montreal,” Shelagh Kinch, Managing Director for English services in Quebec, wrote to me via email. “The News Director and Current Affairs Program Manager positions have been removed and we have created one new position — Managing Editor. This new position is responsible for all News and Current Affairs content and programs.”

“Helen Evans has agreed to take on this role. With over 20 years in programming at CBC, she has done an excellent job as Current Affairs Program Manager leading daily and weekly current affairs programming on Radio (Daybreak, Radio Noon, Homerun, All in A Weekend, Quebec AM and Breakaway) and on TV with Our Montreal.”

“Meredith Dellandrea will also have an expanded role as Content Manager, Arts and Digital. She will continue to be responsible for Canada Writes, CBC Music, Cinq a Six and network programs (A Propos and Wiretap). Meredith will also have a larger role with cbc.ca/montreal for all non-news content.”

Barr’s legacy at CBC Montreal includes various revamps of their newscast, and the hiring of people like Frank Cavallaro and Debra Arbec. The fact that both of them came out of CTV is not a coincidence. Barr herself worked at CTV Montreal before moving to CBC.

Barr did not respond to a request for comment. I’ll update this if she does.

Catherine Cullen goes to Ottawa

Catherine Cullen looking at me suspiciously, because she knows better than to trust me when I have a camera.

Catherine Cullen looking at me suspiciously, because she knows better than to trust me when I have a camera.

In happier news, CBC Montreal is losing another employee, but for a more Facebookable reason: reporter Catherine Cullen is leaving the Maison Radio-Canada to join the network’s parliamentary bureau in Ottawa. Cullen made the announcement Thursday on social media.

Cullen, who I know because we were classmates at Concordia in 2005, started working for the CBC soon after that, first in radio, then quickly scoring a coveted permanent job at a company notorious for dragging along casual workers for years. She moved into TV because that’s what happens to people who are pretty and have a lot of charisma. She became a national reporter based in Montreal, where she regularly got to interact on national TV with her idol and secret crush Peter Mansbridge.

Like me, Cullen is originally from Pierrefonds, but she spent most of her youth in Ottawa. She studied media at what was then called the University of Western Ontario before doing the journalism diploma program with me at Concordia.

Cullen starts in Ottawa on Monday.

UPDATE: The headline for this post originally said that Barr had been “fired”. A couple of people at CBC asked me to change that because they felt it was inaccurate to say so. I disagree. I think it’s an accurate, if harsh, word to use to describe someone having their employment terminated involuntarily. In fact, that’s the very definition of the word.

But in the interest of not leaving people with the wrong impression, I’ll say she was laid off. But whether you say fired or laid off or let go or shuffled out of a job, the end result is the same: CBC has redone its management structure in Montreal, and Barr is no longer part of that plan, so she is no longer a CBC employee.

(While I’m at it, I don’t know if Cullen’s new job is technically a promotion either. But it’s definitely an upward career move for her, which is why I describe it that way.)

10 thoughts on “CBC Montreal lays off news director Mary-Jo Barr, promotes reporter Catherine Cullen

  1. Media Man

    So if I understand this correctly, it was either Mary Jo Barr or Helen Evans to be managing editor….So was it a case of who got along better with Miss Kinch ? Just curious.

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      So if I understand this correctly, it was either Mary Jo Barr or Helen Evans to be managing editor….So was it a case of who got along better with Miss Kinch ? Just curious.

      Maybe. There may be multiple reasons, but that’s not the kind of stuff any manager is going to openly talk about (or that you should take at face value even if they do).

      Reply
      1. francis

        yes, definitely how it goes at CBC montreal – how you get along with the manager gets you promoted – so keep going to bagel and coffee meets

        Reply
  2. Steve W

    Is this it with the CBC Montreal cuts? Or there could be more announced before end of month? Canada Writes is based out of Montreal(not CBC Toronto)? You mention Meredith Dellandrea still responsible for Canada Writes, & I see Molly Kohli of Canada Writes, appearing weekly on Our Montreal tv program.

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      Is this it with the CBC Montreal cuts? Or there could be more announced before end of month?

      I don’t know. The cuts weren’t supposed to greatly affect local news operations, so I don’t think there will be that much here, but I can’t say for sure either way.

      Reply
      1. Steve W

        So +1 cut with Pierre Landry losing his CBC Montreal job. That seems to be it? Will anyone replace Pierre Landry at Home Run radio show?

        Your guess Catherine Cullen wouldn’t get a pay increase from CBC(considered a lateral move, to use pro football coaching term)? It’s a upward career move, if she wants to move up within the CBC.

        Reply
  3. Sofi

    I would just like to point out that yes, Catherine Cullen is pretty and has charisma, but she is also an incredibly smart and hard-working reporter. The CBC and Parliament Hill are lucky to have someone of her enormous talent on that beat.

    -Sofi (who knows both of you, so smarten up, Steve!)

    xo

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      I would just like to point out that yes, Catherine Cullen is pretty and has charisma, but she is also an incredibly smart and hard-working reporter.

      Indeed. It’s the latter that got her to Ottawa. (Though I don’t know how smart she is. She is leaving Montreal, after all…)

      smarten up, Steve!

      Nevah!

      Reply
  4. Pingback: CBC cuts affect 10 jobs at CBC Montreal; five people let go | Fagstein

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