Skip to main content

CBC's News Strategy...if you can't beat 'em, BE 'em.

2007 has been a bizarre year for CBC News at Six, starting with the hiring of rival CTV news anchor Janet Stewart and ending with her predecessor on ice and cooling her heels while head office investigates a scandal that could undermine the very foundation of credibility at the Mother Corp.

Oh, to be a fly on the wall at a CBC production meeting a year ago.

Producer A:

We've got to do something. More people watch Channel Nine's televised fireplace than our six o'clock news.

Producer B: I've got it. Let's blend what made us the No. 1 station twenty years ago with what makes CKY the No.1 station today. Pure dy-no-mite.

And so was born the Frankenstein's monster of television news. But we get ahead of ourselves.

The seduction of Janet Stewart would have made a winning reality show in itself. Building on a brief fliration by her, CBC honchos went into full Lothario mode. Nothing was too good when it came to wining and dining the Queen of Nice to replace Krista Erickson, whose professional on-air persona came with the warmth of a comforter made of dry-ice.

Lunch at the Paddlewheel at the Bay with CBC managing editor Cecil Rosner. Coffee at the Starbucks on Osborne with John Bertrand. How could a girl resist?

The only coal in the stocking was when The Black Rod revealed that Stewart was jumping ship, spoiling the carefully choreographed official announcement.

But she was only half the equation. The CBC reached deep, deep, deep into its Time Vault to resurrect the King of Nice, weatherman Murray Parker, to share the throne with Stewart. Nice meets nice. A sure-win scenario.

They wished.

Instead, we got the monster we've spoken of.

There was zero chemistry between Janet and Murray. Throw in sports guy Mike Beauregard and it was torture to watch. Three soloists, each wondering what the other two were on about.


Producer A:

We've got to do something. More people are watching flags flapping at Portage and Main than our six o'clock news.
Producer B:

By Jove, I've got it. If you can't beat 'em...Be 'em.

Exit Murray Parker. Enter CTV weather specialist John Sauder, their new hire.

Yes, the CBC has consciously decided to become a clone of CTV. If they would only give Waubgeshig Rice a haircut and put him on the police beat, they might fool some people into believing he was Kelly Dehn so they would stick around believing they were, indeed, watching CTV News.

Meanwhile, CBC is giving Janet Stewart the full-court press, pinning all their hopes on revitalization on her red-hair draped shoulders. She's got her very own column in the Free Press, and Rosner pulled a few strings with his friend Ritchie Gage, editor of Manitoba Business magazine, to give Stewart the cover-girl treatment.

Gage recounts a story meeting where Stewart comes across like a crusading Lou Grant chomping at the bit to run a human interest story that touches her heart.

Instead, says Gage, breaking news took precedence as CBC went live to a reporter at the virology lab where a suspicious package was found in the building. By contrast, CTV, he said, lead with the anniversary of the death of Princess Diana, followed by weather, more weather, then a sports brief.

Not so fast.

There's hype and then there's hype.

There's reality and CBC's pretend reality.

For the record, CTV actually lead with the virology package story, and, seeing as how their show starts almost 30 seconds before CBC News at Six, they technically had it first.

The Diana story ran 15 minutes into the line-up.

CBC News at Six has succeeded in carving out a unique niche for itself in the news timeslot. A virtual United Nations of newscasters, it boasts every ethnic group known to man. Except, maybe, the man. There's nary a male to be seen except for Waub, whose sing-song delivery leads the newscast most days; Alex Freeman, who covers the woman-friendly consumer beat, and Mychaylo Prystupa, whose great name speaks for itself.

Janet Stewart wixes her mirds so often CBC should promote her bloopers as a drinking game. And a highlight of every show is watching Donna Carreiro punctuate her every word with hand signals that appear to be a combination of semaphore, American sign language, and orchestra conducting. The man who guides planes to land on an aircraft carrier is a statue next to her.

CTV, though, better not laugh too hard. Whatever shortcomings CBC has, their gamble might pay off, particulary once Sauder joins the team.

CTV needs to find a way to energize their show to hold onto their crushing dominance in viewership.

CTV this year demonstrated it's capable of outclassing its competitors when it wants to.

On June 5th, CTV found itself the subject of breaking news when they were booted from their shiny new downtown studios after a bomb threat.

With a makeshift newscast wired at the last minute to utilize equipment at the MTS Centre next door, and with no scripts to follow, the team stood on the sidewalk and presented what may have been the best honest-to-gosh live newscast in the cities history.

Then this fall they slapped CBC silly with their hidden-camera expose of open-air crack dealing outside Portage Place and Air Canada Park.

It was a story unfolding right on Portage Avenue for years right under the noses of CBC, three blocks away. It forced police and Portage Place security to act, driving drug dealers away from the front doors of the shopping centre and clearing Air Canada Park of thuggish loiterers.

Now that's what good reporting can do for the community.

But it takes a lot to stimulate CTV into action. It's grown so comfortable in the pole position that the newscasts often lack ooomphh.

The interaction between Gord Leclerc and co-anchor Maralee Caruso seems wooden, which in itself is still an improvement over his excruciating happy-chat segues with Stewart. Behind Dehn, the daily cast hasn't much depth when covering stories, although Kevin Armstrong has been noticable for some aggressive city hall reporting. The issue of how to replace Sauder could lead to a change in the too-frequent weather segments, and it may be time to rethink how Sylvia Kuzyk fits into the overall show.

Stacey Ashley does a great job on weekend crime stories and Susan Tymofichuk has confidentally grown into the role of late-night anchor, but what the main newscast needs - genuine personality - was lost when Camilla Di Giuseppe and Leah Hextall weren't promoted to the first team and Camilla departed for Calgary.

And then there's Global.

Oh, what a disappointment.

Global News at 5:30 was a fast-paced breath of fresh air. But moving to six o'clock leached everything that was watchable out of the show.

Mike Brown, the jewel in Global's crown, would often lead the show at 5:30 with his unpredictable slant on news stories that everyone else was playing straight. But he's been relegated to also-ran at six, inserted here and there whenever to no good effect.

News anchor Derrick Oliver disappeared without a trace one day after an unfortunate experience hosting a volunteers awards dinner. His replacement, Peter Chura, brought all the pizazz of white noise in dark room while paint dried. It took months for him to loosen up, but at what cost to viewership?

The revolving co-anchors, Adrienne Pan and Eva Kovacs could have their experience better utilized in field reporting or special features, rather than some consultant's over-analyzed conclusion about what Winnipeggers insist on seeing ie- female anchor(s). The male reporters, by and large, lack presence and come off green as grass. And weekend anchor Nicolle Dube spouts malapropisms that would make Janet Stewart proud.

The departure of weathergirl Kate Stutsman for Hamilton has hurt Global a lot less than was first feared. Andrea Slobodian has left behind her undistuinguished reporting career, started to overcome her nerves, and now is a fresh new face with a beautiful smile and a girl-next-door-to-your-baba's-house appeal.

(Does anyone else yearn for the days of Lisa Saunders and Glen Kirby and A-Channel's phalanx of cameras on the streets. In fact Global should hire Lisa and Glen to give the show some personality. )

So, as 2007 gives way to 2008, television news in Winnipeg has become a soap opera.

Will CBC win back the hearts of viewers while wearing the mask of their arch-enemy?

Will CTV get over the heartbreak of rejection by its host and weatherman?

Will Global News find Derrick Oliver and tell him all is forgiven?

Popular posts from this blog

The unreported bombshell conspiracy evidence in the Trudeau/SNC-Lavelin scandal

Wow. No, double-wow. A game-changing bombshell lies buried in the supplementary evidence provided to the House of Commons Judiciary Committee by former Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould. It has gone virtually unreported since she submitted the material almost a week ago. As far as we can find, only one journalist-- Andrew Coyne, columnist for the National Post--- has even mentioned it and even then he badly missed what it meant, burying it in paragraph 10 of a 14 paragraph story. The gist of the greatest political scandal in modern Canadian history is well-known by now. It's bigger than Adscam, the revelation 15 years ago that prominent members of the Liberal Party of Canada and the party itself funneled tens of millions of dollars in kickbacks into their own pockets from federal spending in Quebec sponsoring ads promoting Canadian unity. That was just venal politicians and a crooked political party helping themselves to public money. The Trudeau-Snc-Lavalin scandal is

Crips and Bloodz true cultural anchors of Winnipeg's aboriginal gangs

(Bebo tribute page to Aaron Nabess on the right, his handgun-toting friend on the left) At least six murder victims in Winnipeg in the past year are linked to a network of thuglife, gangster rap-styled, mainly aboriginal street gangs calling themselves Crips and Bloods after the major black gangs of L.A. The Black Rod has been monitoring these gangs for several months ever since discovering memorial tributes to victim Josh Prince on numerous pages on, a social networking website like Myspace and Facebook. Josh Prince , a student of Kildonan East Collegiate, was stabbed to death the night of May 26 allegedly while breaking up a fight. His family said at the time he had once been associated with an unidentified gang, but had since broken away. But the devotion to Prince on sites like Watt Street Bloodz and Kingk Notorious Bloodz (King-K-BLOODZ4Life) shows that at the time of his death he was still accepted as one of their own. Our searches of Bebo have turned up another five ga

Manitoba Hydro is on its deathbed. There, we said it.

Manitoba Hydro is on its deathbed. Oh, you won't find anyone official to say it. Yet . Like relatives trying to appear cheery and optimistic around a loved one that's been diagnosed with terminal cancer, the people in power are in the first stage of grief -- denial. The prognosis for Hydro was delivered three weeks ago at hearings before the Public Utilities Board where the utility was seeking punishingly higher rates for customers in Manitoba. It took us this long to read through the hundred-plus pages of transcript, to decipher the coded language of the witnesses, to interpret what they were getting at, and, finally, to understand the terrible conclusion.  We couldn't believe it, just as, we're sure, you can't--- so we did it all again, to get a second opinion, so to speak.  Hydro conceded to the PUB that it undertook a massive expansion program--- involving three (it was once four) new dams and two new major powerlines (one in the United States)---whi

Nahanni Fontaine, the NDP's Christian-bashing, cop-smearing, other star candidate

As the vultures of the press circle over the wounded Liberal Party of Manitoba, one NDP star candidate must be laughing up her sleeve at how her extremist past has escaped the scrutiny of reporters and pundits. Parachuted into a safe NDP seat in Winnipeg's North End, she nonetheless feared a bruising campaign against a well-heeled Liberal opponent.  Ha ha.  Instead, the sleepy newspeeps have turned a blind eye to her years of vitriolic attacks on Christianity, white people, and police. * She's spent years  bashing Christianity  as the root cause of all the problems of native people in Canada. * She's called for  a boycott of white businesses . * And with her  Marxist research partner, she's  smeared city police as intransigent racists . Step up Nahanni Fontaine, running for election in St. John's riding as successor to the retiring Gord Macintosh. While her male counterpart in the NDP's galaxy of stars, Wab Kinew, has responded to the controversy over

Exposing the CBC/WFP double-team smear of a hero cop

Published since 2006 on territory ceded, released, surrendered and yielded up in 1871 to Her Majesty the Queen and successors forever. Exposing the CBC/FP double-team smear of a hero cop Some of the shoddiest journalism in recent times appeared this long August weekend when the CBC and Winnipeg Free Press doubled teamed on a blatant smear of a veteran city police officer. In the latest example of narrative journalism these media outlets spun stories with total disregard for facts that contradicted the central message of the reports which, simplified, is: police are bad and the system is covering up. Let's start with the story on the taxpayer funded CBC by Sarah Petz that can be summed up in the lead. "A February incident where an off-duty Winnipeg officer allegedly knocked a suspect unconscious wasn't reported to the province's police watchdog, and one criminologist says it shows how flawed oversight of law enforcement can be." There you have it. A policeman, not

Winnipeg needs a new police chief - ASAP

When did the magic die? A week ago the Winnipeg police department delivered the bad news---crime in the city is out of control. The picture painted by the numbers (for 2018) was appalling. Robberies up ten percent in  a single year.  (And that was the good news.) Property crimes were up almost 20 percent.  Total crime was 33 percent higher than the five year average. The measure of violent crime in Winnipeg had soared to a rating of 161.  Only four years earlier it stood at 116. That's a 38 percent deterioration in safety. How did it happen? How, when in 2015 the police and Winnipeg's police board announced they had discovered the magic solution to crime? "Smart Policing" they called it.    A team of crime analysts would pore through data to spot crime hot-spots and as soon as they identified a trend (car thefts, muggings, liquor store robberies) they could call in police resources to descend on the problem and nip it. The police