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Friday, July 22, 2011

Top young CTV reporter tells why he quit

Plus: his follow-up to an outpouring of response.

The Kai Nagata Note Sending Shivers through Canada's Media

By Kai Nagata, 11 Jul 2011

Editor's note from

"Part farewell, part manifesto, this blog post by CTV's Quebec City Bureau Chief Kai Nagata, suddenly unemployed by his own choice, immediately went viral over the weekend. We reprint it here, along with a second post he published Saturday."

Kai Nagata'a 3000 word essay:

"WHY I QUIT MY JOB, July 8, 2011. Until Thursday, I was CTV's Quebec City Bureau Chief, based at the National Assembly, mostly covering politics. It's a fascinating beat -- the most interesting provincial legislature in Canada, and the stories coming out of there lately have been huge. The near-implosion of the Parti Quebecois has kept the press gallery hopping well into summer. If you're not from Quebec, it's hard to explain the place the National Assembly holds in the popular imagination -- but suffice to say that within francophone journalistic circles it carries more prestige than Parliament Hill. I had the privilege to be working next to several of the sharpest reporters in the country.

The city is beautiful, ancient, and a great place to learn French. As master and commander of my own little outpost, I had significant editorial control over what I covered and how I treated it -- granted, within a recognizable TV news formula. My bosses trusted and encouraged me, my colleagues at the station in Montreal were supportive and fun to work with, and my closest collaborator, cameraman/editor Fred Bissonnette, quickly became a close friend.

I was a full-time employee making good money, with comprehensive benefits and retirement options (I was even lucky enough to be hired before Bell bought CTV and began clawing back some of those expensive perks.) It was what I would qualify as a "great job," especially for a 24 year old. Many of you told me how proud you were of my quick climb. But there was a growing gap between the reporter I played on TV, and the person I really am and want to become. I reached my breaking point suddenly, although when I look back now, the signposts were clear.

Not why I quit my job:

Let me pause for a minute and tell you the reasons for which I did not quit my job. I didn't quit my job because I had a falling out with anyone at CTV or the National Assembly or in my life outside work. And I didn't quit my job because it was too hard. It's true that the position demands responsibility. You have to know what's happening, what's important, and deploy your limited resources accordingly (namely, me and Fred). When I went to bed I turned email notifications off on my Blackberry, but I left the ringer on. After all, when you're the network's only reporter between Montreal and the Maritimes, they have to be able to reach you. But I would say, humbly, that I didn't just meet expectations -- I excelled.

In everything I was asked to do, I performed consistently at a level above my experience. We made some good TV. So I didn't quit my job because I felt frustrated or that my career was peaking. 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." (snip) ...

NOTE: Read Kia Nagata's original 3000 word essay: "Why I Quit My Job" at his website:


Kia Nagata published this message one day later at his website at this url:

"A LOT CAN HAPPEN IN 24 HOURS, July 10, 2011. Sometimes I think of consciousness as a river. Most places, it's armoured over with concrete, sometimes several layers thick. We've all heard about the river, and we all find ways to dip a bucket now and then. Some groups (my dad is a Zen Buddhist) have put years of hard work into building wells -- reinforced, symmetrical structures, with sturdy rungs for those brave enough to climb down. Some people bottle that river water -- and indeed some drugs and other shortcuts can remind you what consciousness tastes like.

The river has always been there, and it's still there, far under our feet.

24 hours ago, when I posted my "manifesto," or "cri de coeur," or Howard Beale moment" or "Jerry Maguire mission statement," or "extremist left-wing rant," as it has variously been described, I had two very simple motives. I felt I owed it to the colleagues I would be leaving to explain my decision. And I needed to save my energy for driving, rather than telling the story to each and every friend and family member over the phone. When I was done digging a shallow grave for my TV career, I swung my pickaxe and stuck it in the ground. Then I sat down to rest.

When I took my eyes off the horizon and looked down at the ground, I realized something was seeping out around the blade of the pickaxe. A tiny bit of sweet, clear water trickled out over the rocks. But it didn't dry up, like I thought. Now there's a little spring gurgling along, winding its way through the dust, carving a little channel as it goes along. It tastes amazing.

The response:

I want to thank every single person who read that first post. I especially want to thank all of you who took the time to put your own thoughts down here in a comment, or repost the blog on Facebook, or discuss some of the ideas on Twitter or your own blogs. I wish I had time to reply to each of you.

I especially want to thank all the journalists who re-posted the link, possibly at a risk to their internal reputation. Thank you David Akin (Sun), thank you Muhammad Lila and Duncan McCue (CBC), Susan Delacourt and Antonia Zerbisias (Toronto Star), Stephane Giroux and Todd van der Heyden (CTV), Rob Silver (Globe & Mail), Don Macpherson (Montreal Gazette) and many more.

I also want to thank everyone who shared their own story. I am humbled.

There's a few people calling me a hack, a naif, radical, immature, irresponsible, narcissistic, insane, verbose, boring and so on. Oh yeah, also "David Suzuki Jr." That one was funny. Some of the other ones hurt. All this is great. I'm definitely not going to zap your comments. I hope we can debate, when I have some time.

So far though, the haters are a tiny minority. Most of the people who disagree with me have held their tongue, or been kind and polite. The rest of you have leaned over and wrapped me in a warm, soft, Kevlar blanket. I was pretty sure I was doing the right thing, but the online bonfire lit by my resignation has become a kiln: tempering the steel, galvanizing my resolve.

I think a few key things have been demonstrated here:

1. People will still read a 3,000 word essay.

2. People can recognize truth and honesty.

3. People are thirsty.

The river:

They say water is one of the most powerful forces on earth. It can create and destroy. It can trickle for millenia through limestone caverns, finding a way under miles of desert. Or it can crash over the beach and sweep whole cities away. I guess we'll see what this little spring turns into.

The discussion needs to continue. Conversations need to be had. But right now I need to rest. I barely slept last night. I've been reading every single comment, fielding calls from friends, and trying to keep up with the direct messages, texts, and emails. I need a break. I need to drive a bit to clear my head. Tomorrow I'm planning to cross over into the U.S. and shut off my iPhone. But this is far from over.

As they used to say, stay tuned."

This article is originally published at this website:


At 11:47 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kai Nagata's 3000 word essay is an insightful look into Canadian media as seen through his own eyes. This is worth reading and sharing. It offers understanding of why some of the the baby boom generation and some of the youth are driven to activism in this 21st Century.


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