A standing walkthrough: Quite possibly the lamest newscast ever broadcast on Canadian national television

All hands on deck…
a new person every four minutes…
everyone talks to Peter…
a veritable Night of a Hundred CBC Stars…

Matrix of screenshots from ‘The National’

What a disaster.
Sesame Street has better pacing.

Just when most people had forgotten the phrase “dumbing down the news,” there was suddenly plenty of evidence for it at last night’s telecast of a rebranded The National.
From the moment it began, there was an obvious and palpable sense that everyone, in every instance, was merely “following orders.”
And by the time it was over, it was as if we had spent more facetime looking at the newscasters than at the news.
But that’s not really what people tune in for, is it?
Anchor Peter Mansbridge was so laid-back he may as well have put on an apron and started cooking.
What happened to doom and gloom and crises and loud music?
If you want serious excitement now, try a newspaper.

There seemed to be two primary rules: “Keep it simple” and “Stand.”
Everyone stands, making even the viewers feel uncomfortable.
What manager or producer came up with such an inappropriate direction?
Certainly not the same one that lifted the colour scheme and even the acrylic desk from The Rachel Maddow Show.

Icy-blue sets

That at least shows good taste.

If last night’s show was even the slightest indication of what’s to come, this flagship is sinking, and fast.

Perhaps one day it will occur to someone to gather together the reporters themselves and ask them “How do you want do this?”
They couldn’t possibly do worse than the brand-new National.


  1. Anonymous
    Posted October 30, 2009 at 8:25 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    I’m choosing the “non-mandatory” options to make this one comment.
    Any “good” that may be hidden in the launch is overwhelmed by schizophrenic sizzle and no substance. It’s like they are going out of their way to make the coverage as surface and vacuous as possible. I hate to break it to the brass, but hand picking celebrities does not make them credible reporters. In fact, it’s an insult to the handful of ACTUAL journalists who grace the TBC pillars. CBC viewers are smarter than that. CBC viewers know what they want and expect from a public broadcaster far more than the Magid Consultants ever will. They’ve already cut through the motion sickness of watching the National to see that the stories suck. They’ve judged. They’ve found it wanting. Will the CBC be able to take it seriously, pivot and get a credible product back on air? I don’t know. I know SOME managers who are more than capable. I just don’t know if they’ll have the courage to stand up and insist on it before it’s too late.

    If our friend Hubert Lacroix is reading this, perhaps it’s time to chop off the hand that claws the CBC. Magid is a Richard Stursberg brainchild and Jennifer McGuire, not knowing anything about television news, was only too happy to have someone tell her how it should be. So, use what is perhaps the most disastrous TV launch in history as a good excuse to say “Bye Richard. Nice knowing you, but we think we’ll go back to doing news rather than infotainment. We’re not sure who you spoke to in your focus groups, but the focus group known as the Canadian public has spoken to us. You’re just not testing well. Perhaps you and Jennifer McGuire can market yourselves as a team.”

    They have a very short window to fix this. The clock is ticking. We’re watching. Even if viewers are dropping like flies.

  2. for discussion
    Posted October 29, 2009 at 1:40 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    prometheus, i think you’re hearing another gmc ad. this one is pretty distinctive.

  3. Manx
    Posted October 28, 2009 at 5:52 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    Tuesday night’s Wendy Mesley piece about NASA was abysmal. It was truly awful.

  4. Anonymous
    Posted October 28, 2009 at 3:01 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    Thought that was him. George doesn’t fit any brand, his show is tanking, Strombo show is moving to Radio 2 which according to the comments on Radio 2 website people are not happy. I think he’s trying to stay in the spotlight anyway he can. Poor chap, he is completely unaware that Canadians are sick of him! And after the new news on cbc, people are sick of all the fluff and airheads who have proven that they alone can tank a company. Hey what’s next George, you gonna tell all of us girls to have a happy period?

    • Mimi
      Posted October 28, 2009 at 3:46 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

      Outside of Queen West & Ossington (i.e. The Rest of Canada !!) Strombo makes no sense at all! CBC is showing it’s Toronto-centric myopia yet again.

      • Kev
        Posted October 29, 2009 at 11:05 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

        I love that you’re playing the salt-of-the-earth card but are hip enough to namecheck Ossington as the new it area. Good work!

        Unless you mean the actual Queen-Ossington intersection and are making a dodgy reference to CAMH in which case, not-so-good work.

  5. for discussion
    Posted October 28, 2009 at 12:47 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    anyone notice that the edgy, anti-corporate hipster Strombo is the voice shilling for GMC trucks in new Canadian commercials. Gotta be him…unmistakable slight lisp and monotone delivery. did some ad agency girls bring him in to voice so they could hang out with him? how does he fit the brand?

    • Mimi
      Posted October 28, 2009 at 3:43 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

      I thought Strombo only rode motorcycles….Let’s not forget, he sold his soul when he did “The One”, so he’ll sell anything now.

    • prometheus
      Posted October 28, 2009 at 10:52 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

      It’s not Strombo’s voice on the ads, it’s an ex-CBC promo voice guy named Bob Boving. C’mon, people, they’re not even close to sounding alike.

  6. Daley
    Posted October 27, 2009 at 10:16 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece
  7. k-lok
    Posted October 27, 2009 at 8:23 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    My mother is too busy trying to understand all the gizmos on CBC news to be upset about anything. In fact, if it doesn’t give the old dear a seizure I’d be shocked.

  8. Anonymous
    Posted October 27, 2009 at 3:27 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    This was awful! If you need a gravol to watch the news, someone needs to get fired. Now.

    • Another Year Another Plan
      Posted October 27, 2009 at 6:02 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

      Best set that required gravol award goes to the CTV News 1 rotating news desk from the launch of the CTV specialty channel back in 1997.

      Bring back Nancy Wilson to weekday CBC NN !!!!

  9. Anon
    Posted October 27, 2009 at 3:04 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    Aaack! Jian!

    Even SRC was commanded to use a few minutes of the Jian new-young-famous-conductor-in-Toronto in the smarmy English of Mr. Ghomeshi and flamboyant Dudamel at the end of their newcast.

    Please, make this nightmare go away.

    And with too many consequential stories getting 2 sentences, I’ll not be coming back to The inconsequential National.

    And the local news now expanded to 10 minutes is even more “if it bleeds, it leads” style with three shooting or crime stories, and at the five minute mark, Claire Martin reading the temperature before the longer 2o second forecast at the end of the show.

  10. k-lok
    Posted October 27, 2009 at 11:39 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    Sorry, “Kev” but if you can’t see this is crap you’ve got the IQ of someone who’d like it.

    Just a figgin’ joke. You know what? I don’t give a RAT’S ASS if joe-six pack isn’t watching the old style CBC. If he doesn’t like being informed and learning, that’s his problem, not mine. Luckily the entire country hates it too.. read the comments.


    • Kev
      Posted October 27, 2009 at 1:06 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

      All I’m saying is that it’s too early to judge the impact, and it’s unfair to judge a new format solely on the first show. There are bound to be tweaks and larger modifications resulting from audience feedback – at least the audience feedback that isn’t “be more like Fox News!” or “never change anything!”

      • Fake Ouimetjoined April 10, 2009
        Posted October 27, 2009 at 2:46 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

        Granted, Kev. But its perfectly reasonable, and widely practised, to review the début episode.

      • Frank
        Posted October 29, 2009 at 11:56 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

        Amanda’s butt side is nothing compared to that bucket of lard Kelly Crowe
        showed in her buddy shot with Mansbridge.

  11. Kev
    Posted October 27, 2009 at 11:29 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    Isn’t it a bit premature to – oh, wait, it’s Allan.

  12. Sean
    Posted October 27, 2009 at 10:42 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    Anyone else notice the size and shape of Amanda Lang’s ass? Let’s get a 360 degree sweep from the cameras so I can get a better look. Couldn’t get a good view of the rack though with the jacket on.

    This is what the producers wanted me to think isn’t it?

  13. Anonymous
    Posted October 27, 2009 at 10:23 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    hey wow Allan didn’t like something and came to the Teamakers to bitch about it. Now that’s news! Or is it?

    • Fake Ouimetjoined April 10, 2009
      Posted October 27, 2009 at 11:40 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

      Oh, hush. The Tea Makers is the natural home of bitching. Where else are you going to do it? Inside the CBC comments section? Twitter? While waiting for the plum elevators?

  14. Anonymous
    Posted October 27, 2009 at 7:19 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    No managers were directly responsible for this tripe. Rather this is the work of outside consultants who are the only credible authorities in the eyes of McGuire, Stursburg, and Stewart….

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