The Maggot

Over the weekend I met up with “J Frank Willis.” She/he was on her/his way north, anxious to spend some time in a Wonderous Canoe to get away from it all. We went to Starbucks. Willis brought the laptop and the National Post and I bought the coffee. We talked and Googled and this is the result.

So we thought Tony Soprano was in trouble. Well CBC News is in deeper shit than Tony.

The managers have hired “The Maggot.”

Buried in the National Post story about a Scientologist show doctor hired by the CBC, is this bit:

Recently, the CBC retained a U.S. media-advisory consultancy, Iowa-based Frank N. Magid Associates, to help revamp its local news coverage and build ratings.

“Sometimes we need someone from the outside to look in,” explains Julie Bristow, the network’s executive director of factual programming.

Frank Magid is called The Maggot in the United States because he is loathed and despised by pretty much anyone who wants to be, or is, a serious television journalist. He is loved by ratings-hungry station managers and blowdried airhead anchors.

He’s been around for a while. His contribution to the world in crisis is “Live Local Late Breaking.” We used to chuckle at WKBW and the fires in Tonanwanda. Now Buffalo is going to be laughing about fires in Toronto, Trenton and Thunder Bay.

His style of reportage has been villified from it’s very inception:

“This is Ken and Barbie journalism,” says 60 Minutes producer Don Hewitt.

“It’s like Noah’s Ark. One man, one woman. Ken and Barbie journalism is happening everywhere in America. It’s time for television to raise its sights a little.”

Walter Cronkite also checks in to denounce “the so-called local Action News presentations that are total perversions created from outside by consultants.”

Every friend of mine in the US who ever tried to do serious television reporting detests the man and everything he stands for. He’s even involved with one of the most hated groups in the world, telemarketers.

This number rings late at night. I am extremely annoyed with this practice particularly since there is no answer when I pick up. In the middle of the night a phone call could be a family emergency. These idiots need to be put out of business and leave others alone. The Do Not Call Registry is just that DO NOT CALL.

Probably doing audience surveys. So much for respect for the audience.

He charges $28,000 US for a tiny market US station. God only knows how much he’s charging the Canadian taxpayer for his crap. We can only hope that he will tell the beancounting bastards to hire enough damn cameras to actually shoot the bloody news.

So there goes CBC News as serious journalism. That’s it.

How long will it be before Peter Mansbridge is bumped out for some 30 something good looker??? And of course if the CBC follows the Maggot formula then we will be no different from the privates, so why should the government keep the CBC around?

And Citizen Journalism? The firing of Dragonfly does not bode well. Does that mean that CBC Communications is now going to rule on the thousands of people we hope will submit ideas, news, comment, photos and video into the incubator?

What happens if one of them says something that Communications doesn’t like?

CBC Citizen Journalism, vetted by Communications, will be like Winston Smith at the Ministry of Truth in Nineteen Eighty-Four.

And that’s doubleplusungood for all of us.


  1. Dwight Williams
    Posted June 16, 2007 at 10:10 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    CQ: As a minor Whovian fan myself, I confess to surprise and vexation over that particular scheduling decision. Reversing the airing order AND airing the movie at midnight? Granted, many of us have video recorders(which the assorted cable and production houses are working on rendering unusable according to and/or…but it’s still going to annoy a lot of people contributing eyeballs to one of CBC’s bright-spot programming choices.

    Torchwood, I could justly see being exiled to sometime after The National, though. No slight on its content or fans, but I’ve heard and read enough to be forewarned to expect such a decision, and it makes sense.

  2. Anonymous
    Posted June 14, 2007 at 12:30 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    Another american-style solution…all fluff, no substance.
    Everything the CBC should NOT be.

    A scientologist? I’ve researched this cult extensively and the only conclusion to draw is that the practitioners are all emotionally weak, soulless and ultimaltely, quite dangerous. (Not to mention “foolishly stupid” for actually paying for their “spiritual journey”…with the promise of perhaps, eventually boarding a real spaceship!).

    Seriously, the ongoing goal of this cult is to infiltrate the main institutions of our society. Evidence shows a real penetration in the corridors of power (media and political)in the U.S. Why are we inviting such a character to come and “show us the way in local news”? This latest initiative proves without a doubt that “the wheel’s turning but the hamster’s dead” when it comes to certain decision-making around here…

    This new approach speaks to you?

  3. Tod Maffin
    Posted June 14, 2007 at 11:28 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    Hey Allan,

    All CBCers are reachable by this standard:


  4. Allan
    Posted June 12, 2007 at 5:54 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    Dear Mr. Keay
    Your kind offer may come in use some day, perhaps to Ouimet.
    But darn if I can find your email address in the haystack that is CBC.CA.
    Perhaps she knows it already (wink, wink).
    I’ve long suspected she’s a double-agent.
    – Allan

    {hey, ~O, there’s another one for your sidebar!}

  5. Jeff Keay
    Posted June 11, 2007 at 2:23 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece


    CBC Communications here.

    Not sure we agree with your hypothesis on the Dragon’s Den blogging situation.

    As you may have already seen from my notes to Maffin and our blogger, we didn’t order that he be given the bum’s rush out of the building. Nor did we know he existed, until we noticed his blog entry. Took a couple of phone calls to determine how the misunderstanding came about. The show producers have been trying to reach him, thus far unsuccessfully, I’m told.

    In any event, we don’t have a problem with what he and the show producers were doing and wish him every success with his blog. Glad to hear he’s a fan.

    As I’ve said to all parties, feel free to contact us directly if you’d like confirmation/clarification on this kind of stuff.

    Jeff Keay
    Head, Media Relations

  6. boris brodsky
    Posted June 11, 2007 at 1:12 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece


    1 CBC TV news will become more like private news

    2 ratings will go down rather than up, since this sort of “product” is already available elsewhere:

    people who want buzz and flash and crap are already watching the privates

    people who want so-called “quality” news will be left with no options at all, short of switching off.

    and so:
    3 the ceeb will thereby make itself even less relevant than before (thus hastening its own demise?)

    compare this with Radio One and Radio Two, where, arguably, we’re already at stage 3.

  7. Enik Sleastak
    Posted June 11, 2007 at 11:51 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    There is such a wealth of material in this post, it’s hard to know where to start…and when to stop.

    These stories sadly confirm the complete lack of vision at the most senior levels of television programming, and that in lieu of that vision the executives there will grasp at any straw that is held out to them, no matter what price tag is attached.

    I can count on one finger the number of consultants that actually made a positive contribution to the corporation. (Actually, I lie: I could more correctly count the number if I had no fingers at all.)

    And I have nothing against Scientology personally (a cult is a cult is a cult) except that every single practitioner appears to be batshit insane. And therefore supremely qualified to realign our news offerings.

  8. CQ
    Posted June 11, 2007 at 8:14 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    How is it that DL-Q is limited to a single, second half, local evening news minute? With her on-air voice & personality – she ought to be either hosting a daytime or a ‘Light’-le weekend news show.
    I can remember, a few years ago, her laughing at a NFL football player who fumbled during a terrific sports recap – best sports report ever.

    Then last night I learn, elsewhere(!), that the CBC’s co-produced Doctor Who seasons-bridging special is debuting, unpromoted, next Monday – at midnight! Yet this is to be AFTER the season opener earlier that same evening?!?

  9. Anonymous
    Posted June 11, 2007 at 5:41 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    A week ago or so I was on the fourth floor and stopped to spy into the board room in the south east corner of the fourth floor adjacent to the atrium. This blog post confirms the presentation I spied on for a few minutes. It had comparisons of local news casts and looked alarmingly sensationalist and dumbed down. Interesting to now read it was The Maggot.

  10. Dwight Williams
    Posted June 11, 2007 at 4:09 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    No arguments.

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