Less than a year after taking on the job of Quebec City bureau chief for CTV, Kai Nagata abruptly quit his post on Friday, publishing a long piece (one might call it a manifesto) on a new blog explaining why.
Nagata writes that his decision to leave is not the result of any falling out with CTV or any personal issues, but is more of a philosophical decision based on what he sees are the limitations of the news media, and television in particular. Among them:
- “… there is an underlying tension between ‘what the people want to see’ and ‘the important stories we should be bringing to people’.”
- “I admit felt a profound discomfort working in an industry that so casually sexualizes its workforce. … The idea has taken root that if the people reporting the news look like your family and neighbours, instead of Barbie and Ken, the station will lose viewers.”
- “… the target viewer, according to consultants, is also supposed to like easy stories that reinforce beliefs they already hold.”
- “the Kate and Will show. Wall-to-wall, breaking-news coverage of a stage-managed, spoon-fed celebrity visit, justified by the couple’s symbolic relationship to a former colony. … On a weekend where there was real news happening in Bangkok, Misrata, Athens, Washington, and around the world, what we saw instead was a breathless gaggle of normally credible journalists, gushing in live hit after live hit about how the prince is young and his wife is pretty. And the public broadcaster led the charge.”
- “I have serious problems with the direction taken by Canadian policy and politics in the last five years. But as a reporter, I feel like I’ve been holding my breath.”
- “Within the terms of my employment at CTV, there was a clause in which the corporation (now Bell Media) literally took ownership of my intellectual property output.”
“I quit my job because the idea burrowed into my mind that, on the long list of things I could be doing, television news is not the best use of my short life. The ends no longer justified the means,” Nagata writes.
Nagata, who’s all of 24 years old, isn’t sure what he’s going to do next. But he’s already heading out west to Vancouver to be with his family.
“I’m broke, and yet I know I’m rich in love. I’m unemployed and homeless, but I’ve never been more free,” Nagata writes.
I had only one real question for Nagata: “Are you insane?”
His response: “Fair question, and one I’ve been asking myself for a week. … I mean what I say about feeling free. And calm, and happy. And yes, sane. The tradeoff, so far, is worth it.”
Of course, “so far” has been a matter of hours.