Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Declaration of independence

I'm pleased to announce that I've resigned my post as senior science and technology reporter at CBC.ca, with my last day on the job being October 29. I've enjoyed working at the Mothership, but the time has come to move on to some other stuff I've been wanting to do for a while now. The decision didn't come lightly, but ultimately it was an easy one to make.

I came to the Ceeb after more than a decade of working in newspapers. One of my main reasons for doing so was to learn about online journalism, and to dip my toes into the broadcast pool of radio and TV. Now, three years later, like Dubya once said, it's mission accomplished.

One of the things I really liked about working online is that it's still, relatively speaking, the Wild West, where just about anything goes. I was free to delve into whatever popped into my head, and to do it in a variety of ways. While I love writing and that's what I do, I really dug the ability to do some different things - I was quite proud of the "Making of a Video Game" mini-documentary I recently put together, for example, for our Pushing Buttons series.

I also had some decent exposure to radio, a medium that I've really come to respect during my time at CBC. On a number of occasions, I had the pleasure of working with the folks at Spark (thanks Nora, Dan and Elizabeth) and a couple of other programs. I found radio to be more substantive than television as the conversations were a bit longer and could therefore usually go deeper. It's also a very different way of telling stories, which as a writer of words I found really intriguing. Spark's presentation of the interview we did about my book earlier this year is a great example.

I've always found television to be somewhat shallow - we used to tease the broadcast students back in journalism school about how they needed their beauty sleep - but at the same time, I've always been cognizant of its power. We word writers can churn out copy about the biggest social injustices till we're blue in the fingers, but nothing ever really happens until it gets on television. I'm glad, therefore, that I was able to get the TV folks interested in subjects like Canada's woeful cellphone situation, and net neutrality during my time.

That said, all of those great learning experiences have also added up into why I'm leaving. The online news world, unfortunately, is an ever-hungry one - a gaping maw that must be fed all the time, with no let up. Truth be told, I've never been comfortable writing straight-up news but have rather always been far more interested in getting deeper into the bigger picture, the larger truth that all the daily minutiae adds up to. My bosses have always been very good about letting me try to do that, but nevertheless, the pressure to feed that daily beast was always there, ebbing away at the time available to do so. Working next door to the television folks and their 24-hour news cycle only compounded the problem. I can't tell you how many times I've seen stories online or on television and slapped my forehead thinking, "Why is this getting the time of day?"

Stepping away now is my effort to catch my breath, to relax and digest. Sex, Bombs and Burgers hasn't made me rich, but it has given me the financial leeway to concentrate on some longer-term projects. I still love technology (and video games!) and will be freelancing, largely for magazines. I've also got a couple of book projects on the boil. I'll share more on all of this here in the weeks and months to come, although "here" is relative for now. I'll soon be launching a new website to reflect my new life of quasi-leisure, so I won't be pegged into blogging simply about war, porn and fast food. Oh yes, I'll be expanding my often-inane rantings to all sorts of topics! Details coming soon. In the short term, I'll also be devoting some time to Sex, Bombs and Burgers and its upcoming U.K. and U.S. launches (more info on some of that tomorrow), as well as its paperback release in Canada in March.

Now that I think about it, my pending life of leisure doesn't look like it's going to be too leisurely...


yumke said...

So it begins! Congrats!

Orwell's Bastard said...

Dude. You can't eat KFC Double Coronaries forever.

Mark Evans said...

Good luck with the next adventure!


mathewi said...
This post has been removed by the author.
mathewi said...

way to go, dude.

Mary said...

Congrats, Pete!

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