Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Is Judy Maddren's Retirement More Evidence of the CBC's Demise: Why Bus Crashes in Mexico Shouldn't Lead The World at Six

Yesterday CBC Radio One news at 6 p.m.—The World at Six, the major news program on radio—led with a story about three Canadians killed in a bus crash in Mexico, recapped the court appearance of a child molester in Austria, mentioned an actress injured in a skiing accident north of Montreal, and spent a good three or four minutes on a “backgrounder” about a gristly murder trial that will start later this week. At the half way mark I was ready to turn off the radio and pick up the newspapers that I was saving until after dinner. What happened that really mattered? The "top stories" certainly did not reflect whatever it was.

Good news coverage seems to be the latest thing to go in the CBC’s race to make itself irrelevant. The maxim in US television news used to be “if it bleeds, it leads,” which greatly increased the paranoia in the country about such things as crime and illegal immigrants. North of the border we seemed insulated from that trend, at least on the radio. That no longer seems the case.

It takes no brains to cover a funeral, no talent to pick up a report from a wire service, little cost to have someone recap previous coverage of a crime: this is cheap and easy reporting and the CBC should provide us with much more. The Stephen Harper government is making life difficult for the Corp these days with talk of more budget slashing, but dumbing down the radio coverage is no way to respond. As Jeffrey Simpson noted in The Globe and Mail on the weekend, “CBC is not nearly distinctive enough, so that increasingly people ask: Who cares?”

Simpson has gone to bat for the CBC several times in the past (in 2000 and 2006, notably) and his concern is evident this time: "As long...as CBC pursues this strategic direction, it will have the worst of all worlds in the search for public money. It will have alienated core audiences who might have cared enough to fight, and exchanged them for audiences for whom CBC is just one choice among many, and therefore not worth getting excited about.”

It may well be no coincidence that Judy Maddren, long time voice of the hourly news, has just announced her retirement effective March 27. And it also is extremely interesting that the official line up of CBC radio show no longer lists The World at Six. Are they never going to learn?

2 comments:

lagatta à montréal said...

Some people think that the qualitative dumbing-down of serious news broadcasts and quality press started with the OJ Simpson saga - after all the Profumo scandal did involve espionage as well as juicy sex - but I guess one could find much older cases. That newscast you mention was particularly dispiriting, when there is so much important news of the economic and environmental crises and their dire effects on people.

Fortunately, this morning, not only Radio-Canada but CBC happened to start off their morning newscast with the big general strike in France, but then they are 6 hours ahead of us, so I doubt that will happen again in the evening.

Mary Poppins Broadway Tickets Coupon said...

nice article !!! That newscast you mention was particularly dispiriting, when there is so much important news of the economic and environmental crises and their dire effects on people.