her twenty-seven years with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
(CBC), Trina McQueen's singularly successful career has constituted
a series of "firsts" for women. In 1992, she became vice president
of English Television News and Current Affairs and of CBC Newsworld
(the all-news cable channel), the first and only woman to hold such
a high-ranking position at the Canadian network.
following year McQueen was made vice president of Regional Broadcasting
Operations, which included equity in portrayals across all broadcast
services and foreign bureaus. This move was widely regarded as a
demotion as well as a backward step for the future of high-level
female broadcast executives. The network, however, denied that charge
and McQueen remained uncomplaining even after her departure. The
only other female vice president, however, Donna Logan, who was
head of English-language CBC Radio, was also demoted, leaving the
executive suite all male. McQueen had been opposed to the changes
being initiated by head office to move the successful flagship nightly
10:00 P.M. news The National, to the all-news cable channel,
Newsworld. The switch also involved canceling the acclaimed in-depth
nightly documentary news series that followed, The Journal,
and launching Prime Time News at 9:00 P.M. CBC brass brought
in news head Tim Kotcheff from the rival network, CTV, to implement
the changes, which proved to be disastrous.
quiet, soft-spoken and tactful negotiating manner combines with
a toughness attested to by long-time colleagues. She has been called
"something of a Patton in Pollyanna's clothing." It was reported
that McQueen lost a power struggle for the position of senior vice
president of TV services to fast-rising wunderkind Ivan Fecan, in
a management arrangement in which their duties, previously carried
out by vice president Denis Harvey, were split into two vice president
jobs. McQueen oversaw a thousand people and more than 200 hours
of information programming per week in her position.
began in journalism at the entry level, parlaying student jobs on
newspapers to a stint with the Ottawa Journal. From there she became
the first female reporter for CTV's local Toronto station CFTO and
co-host for CTV's current affairs magazine show, W5. When
CTV execs indicated that a woman would not be hired as a national
reporter, McQueen quit and joined the public network, CBC, in 1967.
There she became the first female on-camera reporter for The
National news. After nine years as reporter, producer and assignment
editor, she became the first female executive producer of The National
in 1976 when she was 33.
grown up watching The National in Belleville, Ontario, she
has said that it was a glorious dream job for her. She presided
over a virtual revolution of the news, replacing the old guard with
the then-new faces of Hike Duffy, Peter Mansbridge and Knowlton
Nash. She guided the new management through the 1980 Quebec referendum
as well as two federal elections, in addition to daily news stories.
She also stood up to the chauvinists' stereotypes of women in news
and won respect and success.
Photo courtesy of the Discovery Channel
returned to news, after nine years in CBC administration, as director
of news and current affairs. It was a time of huge budget cuts which
decimated jobs, regional CBC stations and employee morale. Then
as vice president, she also became manager of the CBC broadcast
centre, the new downtown facility which gathered together the disparate
TV and radio production entities which had inhabited various spaces
throughout Toronto. In addition, she was head of English network
finances and human resources.
1993, when the federal government handed down more budget cuts for
CBC, as it had every year since 1985, McQueen decamped for a job
in the private sector. She is still vice president and general manager
of the newly created The Discovery Channel, Canada, largely owned
by Labatt Communications Inc., the entertainment arm of the giant
beer conglomerate. The Canadian specialty network produces shows
on science, technology, nature, the environment and world cultures.
Both a journalistic pioneer and an active senior broadcast executive,
Trina McQueen has already devoted three decades to national and
regional Canadian programming.
MCQUEEN. Born Catherine Janitch in Canada, 1943. Educated at
Carleton College, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. Summer relief reporter
for CBC National News, 1967; Reporter, Journal, Ottawa; reporter,
CFTO-CTV, Toronto; co-host, W5 magazine show, CTV; reporter,
producer, editor, The National, from 1967, executive producer,
1976; vice president, news and current affairs and Newsworld cable
new service, CBC, 1991, vice-president of regional broadcasting,
1992; general manager and vice president of the Discovery Channel,
from 1993. Address: Discover Channel Canada, 2225 Sheppard Avenue
E, Suite 100, Willowdale, Ontario, Canada M2J 5C2.