Lynne Russell: Newsworld de-Americanized

Allan elbowed me in the ribs about being a Lynne Russell fanboy. I am.

She was “doing fill-in” on Newsworld in ’06, but “it didn’t work out.” Ever wondered why? She’s finally ready to tell us (or somebody finally asked).

I might be the first American, and probably the last, to anchor the CBC…. After nearly two decades with CNN – and then five years traveling and writing – I went back to TV news here in Canada, because it’s a hard habit to break. I did not expect it to be the same, and it wasn’t.

It’s actually difficult to compare the networks I know first-hand, since CNN is an American commercial network that’s all about immediacy, and CBC is Canadian-government-run [sic], without a breaking-news approach….

American networks do not promote themselves as lending a particular nationalistic viewpoint to the news (whatever one might think actually happens!). Yet CBC Newsworld promotes itself as providing “news with a Canadian perspective.” To me this is an astonishing admission, a disservice to the viewing public and exactly the opposite of what it should be. A journalist’s job – privilege and responsibility – is to tell the story, explain why it’s important, and then shut up and allow the public to draw their own conclusions. I have faith that they are very capable of this.

Then there’s breaking news as a priority: Even at small local stations, there will be at least a reporter on call in the evenings, to chase down facts and interviews when news happens. At the CBC that was not the case, as a large staff focused attention on the late evening program (which left me tap-dancing around stories, and left the public uninformed unless they tuned to the other networks, which were indeed airing more information). That late-evening program is the network’s “showcase,” an hour-long, slow-moving compilation with a documentary feel, that runs several more times in the course of a day. It’s very nicely done – some of it is brilliantly produced – but just don’t call it news.

Most telling, I suppose, was the day in 2006 when a Canadian was tragically killed in an American friendly-fire accident in Afghanistan, and I was abruptly replaced on my scheduled newscast by, well, by a Canadian. I wondered why there were two of us sitting in Make-Up.


  1. Anonymous
    Posted February 17, 2009 at 8:36 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    Who cares that there was a plane crash in another country? I’m serious – enough! CBC even had the memorial service – why? It’s stupid. Is there nothing going on in Canada? Why is it that u.s. news continues to dominate the Canadian landscape – even on the CBC. It’s digusting. I’m SICK of seeing u.s. news on our tv. She’s right in the sense that we should be Canadian focused because it should be obvious, however, there is so much u.s. crap that you have to showcase Canadian just so you know what country you’re living in. Pathetic.

    But she was so wrong about the u.s. not being nationalistic – boy, I lived 5 years in the u.s. Even their foreign news is only news if it involved u.s. interaction with a foreign country. It’s isn’t solely news going on in another country. She is indeed, “OUT TO LUNCH”

  2. Anonymous
    Posted February 12, 2009 at 11:53 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    yeah, because you should assume when you join a national news organization has NO ONE in the building after 8 pm just coz it’s Friday and it’s summertime and you know, it’s cottage time.
    I’m typing this as a plane crash 2 hours away HQ has taken place but CBC is of course non-existent, cuz ya know, it happened around midnight and that’s kind of late to be doing news.

  3. Dwight Williams
    Posted February 12, 2009 at 7:12 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    Put it this way: She’s not stupid by any means. She’s simply not as self-aware as she perhaps could be.

  4. Anonymous
    Posted February 12, 2009 at 10:58 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    “American networks do not promote themselves as lending a particular nationalistic viewpoint to the news (whatever one might think actually happens!).”

    She’s kidding, right?

    Out to lunch.

  5. Anonymous
    Posted February 11, 2009 at 3:57 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    so, in other words she took a job at Newsworld without actually knowing where she was working?

  6. Allan
    Posted February 11, 2009 at 3:31 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    Wow, and wow.

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