Bill Doskoch: Media, BPS*, Film, Minutiae

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The new four amigos of CBC’s ‘The National’

New CBC News anchors Adrienne Arsenault, Rosemary Barton, Eric Chang and Ian Hanomansing

On Tuesday, CBC unveiled the anchoring team that will be leading the National — its flagship newscast — into the future, after a decades-long run by Peter Mansbridge, who retired July 1.

The four are:

  • Adrienne Arsenault
  • Rosemary Barton
  • Eric Chang
  • Ian Hanomansing

Of the four, Arsenault and Hanomansing have the best field reporting backgrounds. Barton has proved her spurs as an interviewer by riding herd over politicians on CBC News Network’s Power and Politics. Chang has worked mostly in local news and currently hosts the CBC Vancouver newscast.

For more on their backgrounds, see this CP story at TheStar.com: A glimpse at the careers of the new hosts of ‘The National

Why did they get picked? From the CBCNews.ca story (‘Adrienne Arsenault, Rosemary Barton, Andrew Chang, Ian Hanomansing to host The National‘):

“I didn’t want four different versions of the same person,” said Jennifer McGuire, editor in chief for CBC News.

“The four that we’ve chosen are quite different and they bring different skills to the program … we think they’ll resonate with audiences.”

It will be interesting to see how the four are utilized. For example, will all political stories get handled by Barton? If so, that’s a big chunk of former anchor Peter Mansbridge’s job — Mansbridge loved politics, hosting the Insiders and At Issue discussion panels, to name two. Who will be the lead anchor for conventions, budgets and election nights, three other major political TV events?

From the Globe and Mail (‘CBC names Arsenault, Barton, Chang and Hanomansing new hosts of The National‘):

In tapping the four, the public broadcaster sought to blend strength in international, domestic and political reporting with a gender-balanced cast that also, as Ms. McGuire noted during the announcement, “needed to reflect our country.” …

In the case of the four anointed successors to Mr. Mansbridge, they also come with strong personalities that could make the show a unique challenge for producers – a topic of conversation within CBC as the derby for the anchor jobs heated up over the past few months. …

Ms. McGuire acknowledged wrangling the strong wills of her new team will be a unique challenge for the show. “We had very explicit conversations with everybody up front, and assessing how they fit together as a team was part of our assessment process,” she said. “We’re pretty confident we can make it work. But it’ll get managed as well.”

There should be as much behind-the-scenes fodder for Frank magazine as there ever was.

Most of my questions won’t be answered until the new show debuts on Nov. 6, but how will coverage by time zone change? I wonder about this as an Albertan because I’m pretty sure we’re currently getting a taped newscast west of Ontario. A lot of late-breaking news gets missed. The Vancouver newscast will be on at 11 p.m. Mountain Time, and it will be updated, CBC’s Chang has said. But will we still be getting taped news in the Central and Mountain time zones? (An answer might come below)

The National will air from Sunday to Friday with the Saturday newscast staying the same for now. That’s too bad, because it’s one piss-poor, unwatchable newscast and needs a major overhaul.

How will the main newscast change? From CBCNews.ca:

McGuire said the revamped show will have an expanded digital focus, more visual storytelling and a push on original journalism. That includes original content for digital and more insight and analysis on the day’s top stories, with a goal to push the stories forward.

From the Toronto Star (‘CBC’s The National needed a shakeup — but this one?: Analysis‘):

“We will be nimble and flexible and originate from anywhere in the country,” said Jennifer McGuire, editor in chief for CBC News in announcing the new anchors on Tuesday. McGuire promised a “multi-platform” experience on digital and social media “all day long” where the team will always be on the story and “through all time zones.”

Nimble is a word that caught my attention, because I watch the current National every night, and nimble it is not.

The National had 40 minutes to work at least an alert about the B.C. election into its show. I’m not expecting a full report in that time, but they could have had something in (disclosure: I once worked for CTV News’s digital reporting team, but I got lots of exposure as to how TV sausage is made). However, they didn’t.

CBC puts lots of emphasis on “story-telling” (see thumbsuckers from Nick Purdon and Reg Sherren), but they should look on this rebuild as an opportunity to incorporate more late-breaking news into its newscasts.

Real news is what drives audiences, and if CBC’s The National wants to serve as big an audience as CTV National News (976,000 viewers the week of July 10; CBC came in at 621,000), it would be well advised to become more immediate, direct and yes, nimble.

Wed, August 2 2017 » Main Page, Media