I'm Mad as Hell

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and I can't do a thing about it

Where was the News?

After seventeen glorious days the Olympics have come to an end. In Canada all seems right with the world. We won the most gold medals ever and of course, maybe more importantly, we won gold in hockey. The universe has unfolded as it should, at least north of the 49th parallel.

I will resist the inclination to heap too much more praise on the Olympic broadcasters. I thought they did a great job, some of you have had very specific complaints, I would characterize them as niggles. All I will say is that no Olympics has ever had total coverage in high definition of all the sports from all the venues. The fact that you had to be a subscriber to many of the channels is not the consortium’s fault. It was made clear from the time CTV, Rogers, APTN etcetera won the right to cover the games that events would appear on all the various and sundry channels that came under the consortium’s umbrella. If you did have access to all the channels you could choose to see every event live and in its entirety. That is a massive technological feat and one that was delivered as promised.

Where there was a major failure was with CTV and The Globe and Mail’s coverage of actual news during the Olympics. It’s one thing to be a shill, as former CBC News and NPR boss Jeffery Dvorkin points out, this is normal. Broadcasters always hype their own events. But that’s not what I’m talking about. I am referring to CTV News going seventeen days without a proper newscast. Five minutes of Lloyd at 11 p.m. give or take ten minutes depending on what Olympic event was finishing or starting is abysmal enough. Worse, on most nights, the five minutes of news provided by CTV was taken up by three minutes of what Brian Williams had just told us about the Olympic results.

CTV can have no excuse for ignoring the news of the world. On most days because of poor weather and built in extra days to make up for bad weather, there were long stretches where nothing was going on. Brian Williams was called on many times to fill airtime when there was no event to throw to.

Further still, there are two TSNs, four Rogers Sportsnets, APTN, Much Music and more channels that were available to pick up 30 minutes of slack per day while CTV provided a decent newscast.

Over at The Globe and Mail the editors decided that if you can’t beat them join them. Day after day the news was discarded for more Olympic stories. The front section never had more than three pages of non-Olympic news…oh, unless you consider three pages of sports news tacked onto the end of the front section most days.

The Globe insists it is Canada’s national newspaper. In that case doesn’t it have a duty to cover more events in Canada and the world than the self-sponsored and self-owned Olympic coverage? If a huge non-Olympic story took place in the last two and one-half weeks I defy a Globe reader or a CTV viewer to identify it. Can’t. They just don’t know about it.

For two media, newspapers and television, that are supposed to be hard hit by the new media they showed no understanding of their precarious situation. Any news junkie who cared was forced to scour the internet for news. Some of those people will have found new sources for their news content and won’t readily return to The Globe or CTV. Only this time CTVglobemedia will have no one to blame but themselves. One question though, what did all the news reporters do for the past two weeks? A paid holiday in the south I hope.

On a completely different note, I do hope my non-Toronto readers will forgive me a short rant. Last week one of the most popular broadcasters in Toronto left his show. Andy Barrie had hosted the morning show on CBC radio for decades and he was a major success story. In a crowded market he was number one. Quite a feat for him personally and for CBC Radio. Andy was not my cup of tea, I found him soft in a crunchy granola, Birckenstock kind of way, but I was always impressed by his popularity and success.

In other words, he will be very hard act to follow. Matt Galloway, Andy’s replacement has been an excellent host of the 4 to 6 show in Toronto. Unfortunately for Matt he is replacing an icon. That’s a difficult job under any circumstances. Matt has to know that he will continually be compared to Andy by a listenership that has been loyal to Andy for a very long time. So what do the brilliant producers of the morning show do? After a week of long goodbyes and tributes to Andy Barrie, the idiots at CBC radio bring Andy back for an encore and an even longer goodbye on Matt’s first show. This is lunacy. Why can’t the bozos at CBC Radio let go?

Matt Galloway should have been given a clean start to his own show, an opportunity to make the morning show his own. Ted Koppel didn’t show up on Nightline on the next show after he retired, Walter Cronkite didn’t return for a bow on CBS Evening News, Johnny Carson didn’t return to show up Jay Leno, Harvey Kirk and Knowlton Nash didn’t come back to haunt Peter and Lloyd. This sort of thing is just not done. It’s unseemly. Andy should have known better. The producers should have known better. The fact that it happened speaks to a dysfunctional CBC.

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5 Responses

  1. Geoff says:

    Though I didn’t see it for myself, I believe CTV’s promos promised a full-length edition of CTV National News, anchored by Sandie Rinaldo, airing hourly on CTV News Channel. What I’m more perturbed about was the near-total preemption of local news. Except for the Vancouver station, which produced a full one-hour late night wrap up, CTV’s local stations trimmed their news lineup to half an hour a day, airing at 5:30 ET, 4:30 CT, 3:30 MT, etc. — in other words, while most people were still at work. What’s worse is that some days live coverage shortened those newscasts to 15 or 10 minutes, or a couple of times, eliminated them completely. For a company that bleats about the importance of “local tv”, there sure wasn’t much on display the last couple of weeks.

  2. […] Where Was The News? « Medium Close UpLast week one of the most popular broadcasters in Toronto left his show. Andy Barrie had hosted the morning show on CBC radio for decades and he was a major success story. In a cr… […]

  3. James Wicks says:

    Andy Barrie was with CBC for decades?
    Oh, brother! The last time I heard him on the air he was at CFRB.
    Next, I suppose you’ll be telling me that Keith Morrison is no longer doing weekends at CTV or JD Roberts is no longer on Canada AM.

  4. Jason Paris says:

    The news situation was particularly acute on weekends. In a market as large as the GTA, CFTO didn’t have a weekend newscast (because of the olympics), City no longer does weekend news, CBLT stopped weekend news a generation ago. That left the meagre-bugetted Global Toronto Weekend as Toronto’s only local newscast during the Olympics. Very frightening for a region of 5+ million.

    I don’t see the Andy Barrie segue as representing a disfunctional CBC. So what if they did what the Tonight Show doesn’t do? It was a ceremonial passing of the mic and it make for good radio. Moreover, I don’t think Matt minded a bit.

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