CBC's 'The National' relaunch

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CBC's 'The National' relaunch


Left Turn Left Turn's picture

This week, the CBC launched it's new version of 'The National'. The program features four hosts in three different cities: Ian Hamansing and Adrienne Arsonault in Toronto, Andrew Chang in Vancouver, and Rosemary Barton in Ottawa. It also moves away from any real attempt to inform viewers of the day's breaking news, exacerbating a negative trend that was already well underway on the old version of The National.

The old national already devoted the majority of the program to 'pre-scheduled' content – in-depth reports, panels, and interviews, with only a minority of the broadcast being devoted to the day's news stories. And even then, much of the coverage of the day's news consisted of scheduled events rather than the 'breaking' news of the day.

CBC news long since lacked the budget to cover much in the way of 'breaking news'. So The National would ignore minor 'breaking news' unless it was part of a larger story that The National had decided to follow. Some types of major breaking news on the other hand – major natural disasters, mass shootings or terrorist attacks, deaths of some Canadian celebrities – would become 'content hog', taking up a disproportionate ammount of the broadcast and pushing out other news and content, as though the program were using these types of breaking news as excuses to reduce the number of stories covered on the day, in order to save money.

Some types of scheduled 'ceremonial' content – some examples include the swearing in of a new government, roayl jubileees, Canada Day, Rememberance Day, ect. -- Would also become content hog, again pushing off the day's 'breaking news'.

The revampted National appears to have abandoned any attempt to cover 'breaking news', except for those items that on the old National would have become 'content hog'. Refelecting this change, the program has even had a slight name change, from 'CBC News: The National' to simply 'The National'.

It remains to be seen how much the 'breaking news' that they do cover becomes 'content hog', though the overall lack of 'breaking news' makes this less relevant as a concern.

I like the four 'new' hosts as onscreen personalities, and I appreciate the quality of their journalism in what they do cover; however, I'm not crazy about some of the choices they seem to have made for the direction of the show. I don't necessarily hold them entirely responsible for this though, as the program's budget may have been cut again.

The new set is neither a positive or a negative for me. It works fine for what the program has become, but would probably not work as well for the type of Program I'd like it to be.

The new national continues the focus on social issues that was part of the old National, though with little or no mention of the class dimmension of these issues. Unclear though at this point is whether indigenous issues will maintain the prominence that they achieved on the old National.

It's also unclear to what extent the new National will continue Peter Mansbridge's reverence for Conservative aspects of authority – The police, millitary, the crown – and his love of pomp and pagenatry. Here I actually have some hope that the new National willl be an improvement in this regard.

The other unknown is whether the New National will defend the liberal international capialist order as staunchly as the old National; though I suspect it will, given that this ideological position was embraced by the entire CBC New department and not just The National.

Ultimately, the new National fails to fix what was wrong with the old National. What is really needed is an entire hour focused on the breaking and scheduled news of the day, including the myriad of stories that the old National ignored because they had too much of a 'class struggle' dimmension to them, and because they don't have nearly enough international field reporters.