CBC unveiled its new look of its flagship newscast, The National this week. While it is being broadcast as the main change in how the Canada’s public TV network, but is one in a chain of changes that is meant to transform how Canadians view the news. It’s goal, ensure that we have our eyes glued to the CBC.
In the “New” National it is a “deliberate decision” to have fewer longer pieces of news as one of the new four hosts, Andrew Chang tweeted to me.
Personally I am a quantity person when it comes to news. Through a workday I can’t get to a newscast. I rely on social media to get the breaking stories of the day. The news I get, because of where I work is nearly all political, other news is not something I would catch. If something breaks I then tune to a news channel on TV to catch the story.
The CBC made some subtle changes (subtle in the grand scheme) to their news line up recently, but since the launch of the revamped National it has all come to me. The subtle changes were all part of the big plan. The CBC has worked to make it the place we will end up for financial news, political news, world news and breaking news – at the end of the day the source for the breakdown of the 5 or 6 major stories. They are counting on us getting our news in drabs through a day and then wanting to go deep behind the headlines.
On the second night of the new National, I watched at 9pm and then went to CTV National News at 10. The differences were expected and very noticeable and that is what the CBC was going for. Gone from the CBC are the traditional 10 stories in 22 minutes. No more top stories with 90 seconds to give you enough information to want to hear more. You’ll get the in-depth story from the very start of the broadcast.
As mentioned, this is one of several changes. First was the move of “On the Money” from 7pm to 4pm. I tweeted about the move, host Peter Armstrong replied that the show would be available in its entirety on the Facebook page, encouraging me to watch there, “whenever I was free to do so”. The second change replaced the Vancouver based early evening news, previously hosted by Ian Hanomansing, show from 8pm to 11pm with the standard host/presenter of CBC New Network. Carol MacNeil now hosts a 2 hour block from 7pm to 9pm.
Finally the new National is dropped into its place in the schedule. New for the National will be the flexibility of having live updates inserted into the taped broadcast. It will be like having breaking news and the previously recorded news all in one – seamless and not noticeable to those tuning in.
What I get from this is that the CBC is expecting its viewers to get their ‘bits of news’ from new sources like Twitter, Facebook, Huffington Post and Buzzfeed (among others) while some old guard news watchers may have listened to the radio or had the TV on in the background for news.
It seems that the CBC wants to flip how the news is delivered. You might recall not too long ago when the internet was where you went to read/view the in-depth reporting and TV gave you the headlines and maybe a little bit more. Has the CBC been surveying how Canadians are receiving news and current events? Now they want you to go in deep on TV and only scratch the surface on the Internet. The CBC wants users of Facebook and Twitter as their news source to consider the National as a one hour fix for the deep coverage of top seven stories of the day.
I see the value of their theory, I understand the theory, I get the concept. I get it. Will other Canadians? Will Canadians have the energy for the attention at the end of long day needed for the one hour of the National whether it will be through the Cable/Satellite/Fibre TV provider or online? The CBC is counting on two things, one, that current viewers of the National will accept the challenge and two new viewers will flock to the challenge of fewer and longer reports.
Success will not be in only what the traditional TV ratings will reveal, but what traffic has gone to CBC’s online presence (website, Facebook etc.) Has the CBC driven people to watch where ever they might be?
The concept will grow on me. What will pull me away will be the longer world news stories. While I know what is happening in Syria and the Middle East is important to the world it is not enough to me to watch 7-9 minutes and wait for the next story.
The editors, directors and hosts will have to balance Canadian news watchers needs of Canadian, American, World and Financial news. Too much of one of the others and not enough Canadian could be what moves people to another channel for news in their country.
This first week will not reflect what the National will be like in 6 months, by the second or third week we’re told we’ll see the hosts out of the studio and in the field and gathering news. Then we’ll see how the new National will deliver on the “New” in the new National.
Thank you for reading this post; to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress. You can also see me on www.redheartbluelife.wordpress.com where I post about the little things in life I see and do. I can be found Twitter @robertdekker, @rdmediaottawa and on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97. I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org