The death and life of great CBC.ca blogs

So Jowi Taylor bowed out of the Radio 2 blog with a rambling, feisty post that once again failed to generate any kind of discussion. Not even a single “Goodbye.”

I had great hopes for the Radio 2 blog. It was the site’s homepage. And Jowi Taylor did The Wire. Jowi built a guitar out of the effluvia of Canadian history. This guy is a music guy and a radio guy and intelligent and likeable but maybe this never came across in the blog.

Maybe he was hamstrung by the format, or by managers. Maybe Radio 2 listeners don’t want to read blogs, they want to listen to classical music. Who knows?

Over at the Media Mudsling Facebook group it’s noted that Jowi expressed his frustration quite publicly and candidly. I don’t blame him.

Maybe he should have told the Radio 2 detractors that it made no sense for the CBC to have an entire radio station dedicated to music that no one listened to. That it was a holdover from a time when white European elites were on a mission to force Western European culture down the throats of the farmers in the countryside in an effort to civilize them, and in turn, the nation.

But he didn’t say that. He ended it lyrically, thoughtfully and pleasantly, posing an elegant challenge to the listener.

There was a time when I celebrated the launch of a new blog at CBC.ca with vigour and enthusiasm, hoping that each would shine some light on this place which desperately needs illumination, and bring us closer to an audience that increasingly finds us cold and distant.

But something has gone awry. I still stand behind Inside the CBC, but where’s the evolution we expected? Where are the multiple voices and contributors that could flesh out the CBC experience? How come Tod seems no better connected than when he started? Why is it not at least linked from CBC.ca?

Also at the Mudsling Facebook group it was suggested that maybe CBC.ca needs an obsessive, authoritative personality to blog about everything that makes it on to the site. Kind of a virtual tour guide with personality who can point out what you missed. This sounds like a splendid idea.

Does anyone know that Political Bytes even exists? This blog is pretty interesting and off to a great start. Who writes it? The MO seems to be to put these things online and then pray someone will find them.

So how then, to react to Ian Hanomansing’s intern’s blog?

The kid seems well-intentioned. But who would want to read it? It’s the blog Doyle’s intern never wrote. He cracks wise about CBC security and Ian’s teeth. He might be making fun of me.

Or the “Letter & Response from the Director” on CBC.ca’s redesign, a blog so important it has been linked from the top of the CBC home page for weeks? There were hundreds and hundreds of comments from real surfers on the first post, with some great feedback. It was looking like a real chance to connect with the audience in a direct way.

All the comments are gone.

Ironically, the second post is entitled “We Value Your Feedback.”

I guess if by “Value,” you mean “Delete.”

I can’t help but feel partly responsible. I encouraged every initiative. My philosophy was “the more, the better.” But I didn’t get it.

I said on Monday that I didn’t understand blogging, but maybe I wasn’t telling the whole truth.

It’s not enough to just make a blog, or a radio show, or a TV show, and just hope for the best.

You have to be honest, to give a little of yourself, even if the whole thing is artifice. And just like any host, the blogger has to have personality and know how much of it she or he can inject into the proceedings. You have to treat the audience with respect and show them something they’ve never see before.

There are millions of bloggers out there working for free. But we have an edge. We work at the CBC, and have the resources of the place behind it and a perspective most people don’t have. We are creative, intelligent people. We should be putting that forward. We have to focus on the stuff that people can’t easily create in their spare time.

Then, they will come. They will read. And they will come back.

25 comments:

  1. Anonymous
    Posted December 2, 2009 at 6:53 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    Blogs are a boring waste of time.

  2. z
    Posted December 2, 2009 at 8:32 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    HA HA HAA!

    Vintage 2007 Spam tastes so good in the morning.

  3. Posted December 2, 2009 at 3:04 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

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  4. Anonymous
    Posted July 15, 2007 at 6:08 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    Actually Tod, I was only referring to the fact that as far as I know you don’t work “inside” the CBC buildings. Just a little irony. Temps/contract/casuals are all a part of the CBC, trust me I was one for all too long.

  5. hugh
    Posted July 15, 2007 at 6:30 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    re: foxnews.com, again by alexa rankings in the USA the news sites come in as:

    15. CNN
    29. NYTimes
    33. BBC News
    67. Fox News

    see:
    http://www.alexa.com/site/ds/top_sites?cc=US&ts_mode=country&lang=none

  6. Tod Maffin
    Posted July 13, 2007 at 8:07 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    Hi anons,

    I’m as much working inside the CBC as the many, many other casuals, temporaries, contract, [insert generic term here] people that are everywhere in the Corp.

    I’ve had a number of positions here — national host, producer, lockout blogger (okay, that wasn’t an official position), podcast strategist, etc.

    God knows I’d love a “real” job at the Corp.

    As for content on the blog, don’t complain, DO something about it! Post in the comments, or feed me story ideas. :)

  7. Anonymous
    Posted July 13, 2007 at 3:43 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    Does anyone find it odd that a blog called InsideCBC.com is written by someone who doesn’t work inside CBC?

  8. Anonymous
    Posted July 13, 2007 at 8:31 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    Blogs are useless exercices in self-wanking unless they deal with the real issues. Who cares what you think about something inconsequential.

    Real issues:

    – false-flag 9/11 (undeniable…if you are willing to question your core beliefs about our society and world)
    – illegitimate war in Iraq (not to mention Canada’s shifting reasons for being in Afghanistan)
    – ongoing eroding of basic human rights in the name “freedom”
    – Canada being governed more and more like an american state
    – journalists NOT ASKING THE HARD QUESTIONS AND DEMANDING REAL ANSWERS

    A blog is an ideal opportunity to delve into a topic and to bring new insight and understanding (doing a journalist’s job, essentially) OR it can be the ultimate diversionary tactic (“let them believe that they are contributing to the debate…”)

    Blogging should serve a purpose:
    to do what journalists are unwilling or incapable of doing.

  9. Anonymous
    Posted July 13, 2007 at 4:52 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    I seem to recall Jowi swearing to never work with the cbc again. A year ago. No?

  10. Anonymous
    Posted July 12, 2007 at 8:04 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    I think there needs to be a CBC blog snarkier and more gossipy than both Teamakers or InsidetheCBC. InsidetheCBC is nerdy in tone. It has frequent typos. It really made me uncomfortable when it called Andrew Craig a rastafarian, and the Go/Gayest Music post was sad. If it’s really the CBC’s official blog, the CBC should be embarassed.

    Good blogs cover interesting things, have style, and (I think most importantly) are updated frequently.

    I am a huge CBC fan. You might call me obsessed. But where is the blog that is pointing out the seriously bad things on it. Has anyone in Ontario listened to Fresh Air? Why does CBL seem to have so much trouble timing a newscast? How much of a missed opportunity has Q been? It already sounds as dated as AIH or DNTO. Freestyle (Marsha Lederman Freestyle, not Kelly Ryan Freestyle) was better, and at least had a unique sound with its interviews popping out of nowhere.

    A critical blog would have to come from outside the CBC. But from inside the CBC, let’s look at Rough Cuts on NPR – piloting new shows using blogs. I know there’s a bit of that going on for the new Nora Young project, but it’s not happening on CBC.ca. How about daily insight into the editorial process on current affairs shows. How about posting the stories from shows as individual pages on show sites (again a la NPR.org) and allow producers to blog backstory and audiences to respond?

  11. hugh
    Posted July 12, 2007 at 6:41 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    the standard measure of popularity of a blog (in the internet at least) is technorati, for hour:
    http://www.technorati.com/blogs/www.cbc.ca/thehour

    which is a damn fine result, actually.

    however, this really just measures the popularity of a blog within the blogging community.

    back to cbc.ca, jesus, it’s more popular than boingboing, see:
    http://www.alexa.com/data/details/traffic_details?site0=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.cbc.ca%2F&site1=http%3A%2F%2Fboingboing.net&site2=&site3=&site4=&y=t&z=1&h=300&w=610&range=6m&size=Medium&url=new7wonders.com

  12. Anonymous
    Posted July 12, 2007 at 2:20 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    You know Justin, pleanty of “old” people read blogs. Plenty of “old” people read this one. If the writing interests them, they will read it, just like anyone else. Even if we have trouble using email.

    I wonder how you can measure the success of the Hour’s blog? The number of hits? The number of comments? The number of people who read the blog and then watch the TV show? I’d love to hear how successful it is, and how they guage that success.

    As for Inside the CBC, Ouimet has a point. There is a LOT more to the CBC than you can find on there, as good as it is. There are probably a lot of people who want to ‘watching the sausage being made’ but we sell a lot of different kinds of sausages here and I’d love to see more of different things and different writers there.

  13. Allan
    Posted July 12, 2007 at 10:33 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    They can’t handle debate.
    That’s why the CBC is so fundamentally boring.

  14. Alan
    Posted July 12, 2007 at 9:45 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    And if proposed domain changes go into place, watch our ratings drop like a rock. Imagine the news portals URL becomes cbcnews.ca, instead of just a redirect… we could effectively lose all sports, entertainment and homepage traffic from our stats.

  15. Anonymous
    Posted July 12, 2007 at 7:16 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    where are the rss feeds for these cbc blogs?

  16. Anonymous
    Posted July 12, 2007 at 6:54 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    If we’re talking numbers….Fox News is #1 in the USA.

    What does that mean? That it is valuable or useful? Or simply that it serves the proverbial kool-aid in such a brain-numbing way that people who don’t read or have any genuine curiosity about the world can securely go on with their lives, confident in the knowledge that Irak was connected to the events of 9/11 and that President Bush is actually representing their interests.

    What’s the use of a popupar news site if the issues are fluffed over, analysis is non-existent and certain issues (9/11 flase flag)are totally ignored? So what if we get the opportunity to share our comments on certain topics via blogs or comment boards.

    If the news site is deficient in its information gathering and dissemination than what kind of discussion are we fostering? A battle of personal opinions?

    The last thing we need is CBC.ca at #1 on any list.

  17. hugh
    Posted July 12, 2007 at 6:48 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    right, that’s #4 for news, #34 total. the list is interesting, helpful to get an idea of what people do online. one thing people do, among many other things, is look at news sites like cbc.ca…so if cbc.ca wants to benchmark itself, it should not try to compete against facebook or flickr, but rather try to work its way up past bbc, cnn and canada.com. *starred items are news sites (the first one appearing at #20):

    1. Facebook.com
    2. Google.ca
    3. yahoo.com
    4. msn.com
    5. Google.com
    6. YouTube.com
    7. live.com
    8. myspace.com
    9. wikipedia.org
    10. Msn.ca
    11. ebay.ca
    12. ebay.com
    13. blogger.com
    14. gc.ca
    15. Craigslist.org
    16. imdb.com
    17. megaupload.com
    18. microsoft.com
    19. flickr.com
    *20. CNN.com
    21. digg.com
    22. amazon.com
    23. Passport.net
    24. kijiji.ca
    25. mls.ca
    *26. bbc.co.uk
    27. plentyoffish.com
    28. theweathernetwork.com
    29. dailymotion.com
    *30. canada.com
    31. photobucket.com
    32. go.com
    33. futureshop.ca
    *34. cbc.ca

  18. Anonymous
    Posted July 12, 2007 at 6:02 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    “We’re number thirty-four! We’re number thirty-four!”

  19. hugh
    Posted July 12, 2007 at 4:22 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    so for all the bitching about cbc.ca, the site is ranked #34 in canada by alexa:
    http://www.alexa.com/site/ds/top_sites?cc=CA&ts_mode=country&lang=none

    For news sites, that puts it fourth in Canada, behind CNN (#20), BBC (#26) and Canada.com (#30). And that puts it ahead of the Globe, Star, Canoe.ca, NYTimes. And ahead of youporn.com, incidently.

    no comments on the cbc blogs – never read any of them (except teamakers, of course).

  20. billyb
    Posted July 11, 2007 at 8:33 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    Re the CBC Radio 2 blog

    Jowi Taylor was never a blogger. That simple. And franky i dont think Li Robbins is either – at least so far.

    Skilled people, dedicated they surely are, but it takes a different set of techniques, and a lot of experience and to maintain a decent music blog.

    Why does anyone think otherwise?

  21. Peter J.
    Posted July 11, 2007 at 1:39 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    A start on making the blogs “discoverable” might be a Planet Venus-based aggregator (like Planet CBC).

  22. Anonymous
    Posted July 11, 2007 at 12:14 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    CBC blogs are just online columns/articles/editorials.

    Why are the authors (& CBC) pretending not to be journalists?

  23. Anonymous
    Posted July 11, 2007 at 11:54 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    What you are talking about Anon 1:16 pm is having people write purpose-built editorial content. The CBC doesn’t do that anymore.

  24. Anonymous
    Posted July 11, 2007 at 11:16 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    Perhaps we need a blog-caster. After all, CBC blogs became all the rage during the lockout, when the lockout website featured annotated lists of blogs.

    So … if somebody at cbc.ca were to replicate the practice (they) developed for the lockout website, except expand it to a bunch of different subjects (media, new media, federal politics, sports, whatever) perhaps blogging could be taken to a new level.

    Just a thought, off the top of my head.

  25. Justin Beach
    Posted July 11, 2007 at 8:21 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    It’s complicated, I keep saying this but what the hell – trying to do anything on the internet now is like trying to hit a moving target, everything is fluid and yesterdays big hit (myspace) is tomorrows ‘oh yeah, I remember that.’ (this would be posted on Facebook today of course). That said, I think it’s partly generational and cultural.

    People, generally, are not used to the CBC being ‘open’. There is also the generational problem: most of CBC’s fare is aimed at an older audience. Many of these people struggle with email, they don’t have the vaguest idea what a blog is.

    Younger people, at least a large number of them, do get blogs but don’t feel that the CBC is generally very interested in them. Still, where it does take an interest, the Hour’s blog does reasonably well and Radio 3’s blog is one of the most popular in the country. In radio 3’s case this is in part because they’ve bought into the whole thing – blogs, new music canada, podcasts, a videocast etc.,

    That’s part of why I think it would do the CBC tremendous good, on a number of levels, to put Radio 3 on television.

    On a final note: Inside the CBC does what it is supposed to do. The traffic it generates is indicitive of the purpose of the blog. It was originally for CBC Insiders to keep up with goings on, formal and informal, around the corp. It was then opened to the outside world, but there are a limited number of people outside the corp who are interested in ‘watching the sausage being made’ and many of those people work for other media. The average 18-35 year old, who reads blogs, isn’t terribly interested in what goes on behind the scenes. (From ratings numbers they appear only mildly concerned with what goes on in front of the scenes – again R3TV).

    At any rate, the Ceeb is not alone in this. http://www.friends.ca/News/Friends_News/archives/articles07110704.asp


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