CBC: It's not a wheel, it's a carousel - Macleans.ca

CBC: It’s not a wheel, it’s a carousel


Lots of interesting discussion about the new-look CBC news. Critics generally see the revamped style as too much about the hosts wandering around brightly coloured sets littered with flashing flat screens. My colleague Paul Wells writes about this “frantic kineticism,” before going on conclude, sagely I think, that the real question here is not about the packaging but how the CBC fills up all that time now available for news and current affairs.

Of course ultimately this should be about journalism rather than showbiz. Yet I think the way you sell your substance does matter. And so I wonder if the CBC hasn’t missed a chance to play up its heritage. I’m thinking, if I may boast a bit about the Maclean’s aesthetic, about the instinct that leads us to have our name on the front of this week’s magazine in the same striking sans-serif typeface as on the June 15, 1961 copy I have framed on the wall of my home office.

It’s not that the magazine hasn’t changed in all those decades. It’s different in every possible way. Except that it’s still Maclean’s. The idea is to tap into a sense of lineage, even a tinge of nostalgia. There’s a risk, naturally: you don’t want to seem fusty. But, as Don Draper teaches us, “There’s the rare occasion when the public can be engaged on a level beyond flash—they have a sentimental bond with the product.” If you can make an emotional connection, it’s a powerful thing.

There’s been some kidding around about the gleaming counter Peter Mansbridge stands behind on the National’s new set when he chats with fellow journalists and guests. Some see it as a bar stripped of beer taps. But the more precise observation, made to me by an astute friend in broadcasting, is that it’s like a futuristic diner counter. Exactly. Peter needs an old-school Hamilton Beach milkshake mixer to soften the image—or some reference point to remind us that we’re watching a news service wasn’t generated out of nothing this past Monday.

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CBC: It’s not a wheel, it’s a carousel

  1. "Peter needs an old-school Hamilton Beach milkshake mixer to soften the image"

    Broadcast a week or two from Hutch's?

    I have only watched the Solomon show. I am undecided about changes from Newman show but I do like that some of the panels are now mixed – profession wise. Also, they must be pretty happy with their scoop of Donolo's hiring the other day.

    • I thought that first broke on CTV's Power Play? No?

      The new set still houses the same faces, so it retains that famliarity. If people think it's a bar and Peter Mansbridge is the bartender — then maybe that's nostalgic — "you want to go where everyone knows your name…" kind of stuff. Mansbridge as the familiar, trusted bartender in a favourite place…

  2. they must have thought long and hard to come up with a name for their politics show which is almost the same as CTV's.

  3. Also — nobody has posted about the Senator who has brought a suit against Robert Fife. Why so quiet on that? I'm curiuos to hear if other media members thinki it's justified.

  4. Will any potential talking head on any CBC panel openly criticise the new format? Why bite the hand that may feed you? John Doyle from the Irish pub with beer taps scene doesn't strike me as a potential guest on any CBC program. No good craic there.

    The real test tonight if it is transformative will be if joing Peter tonight "Alan and Andrew from Toronto and Chantel from Montreal" are standing, while Rex Murphy prognasticates while sitting.

    • There are rumours Andrew will attempt yogic flying.

      • I want to see Rex host that panel. The 10 part rhetorical questions would be a hoot. [ i love Rex, i just can't always follow him ] I n which caes yogic flying might come in handy.

    • Well, Rex was sitting…

  5. Your colleague Wells is an expert on the new Conservative Party, Harper, and the Harper Government. With that in mind, I wish he, or anybody for that matter, would tell us in a a factual, calm, unbiased, thoughtful, researched way, what will happen to the CBC, new set and all, if Harper gets a majority government.

    • Nothing! It'll merely get a new logo – CPBC. Catchy eh!

    • So, you want someone to look into their crystal ball. Psychic readers, here is your chance to shine.

      Here are a few possibilities:
      1. nothing
      2. more funding
      3. less funding
      4. privatization

      • You forgot Coyne's option : pay per view.

  6. Wow!
    The National Post newspaper will cease operations unless a Toronto court approves a new ownership structure for the paper by Friday, the paper's owners say.
    A committee overseeing the company's restructuring "has made it clear it would not continue to allow the funding of the losses of the National Post past Oct. 30, 2009," a Canwest Global Communications Corp. court filing released Thursday says.

    Could this really be the end of the line for the National Post?

  7. It is the Carousel of Death for the CBC.

  8. All that glitters is not … well you know the rest. It seems to me that now that the baby boom is retired and no longer a good disposable income source, the emphasis has shifted to the up and coming generation who like flash without substance. The new National set up is like an extended version of George Strombo's Hour show Time to switch to a more settled network. Sorry CBC you will never be a sweet young thing again, try as hard as you may, it makes Peter Mansbridge look foolish, which is a terrible shame as he is such a good anchor man in an unstable world.

    • Mansbridge does not need the new format to look foolish. He accomplished that some time ago, behaving like a lovesick loon every time he introduced Claire Martin, the weather person. At his age, it's stomach turning.

  9. Bureaucrats must always justify their presence by periodically engaging in some frenetic activity or other to remind their bosses how “essential” they are, and sadly, CBC is no exception. A short list of their recent “accomplishments”; they threw away the Hockey Night in Canada theme (can anyone hum the replacement?), then they continued their destruction of CBC FM radio and now they’re destroying The National. It’s sad to see bureaucrats allowed to run amuck, but that’s what they do. I weep for poor Peter Mansbridge, he deserves better.

  10. Too many flashing graphics,it distracts from the At Issue panel.
    To CNN for my taste.All the news people at CBC deserve better.
    A more sedate,serious look was far better.