Thursday, November 19, 2009

CBC Rebranding Nothing More Than a Patch Job

For weeks now, Canada’s national broadcaster – the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) – has been running ads bragging about how they’ve completely made-over their all news channel, Newsworld. They even took their flagship weekly nightly national news show “The National” and revised it too with a new set, new logo, and now it also airs on weekends.

When I was a journalist, I watched “The National” and CBCNewsworld religiously – what Canadian newshound doesn’t? But back then your choices among the news networks were limited to CNN, CBCNewsworld, CTVNewsn

The NationalImage via Wikipedia

et, and a handful of local newscasts.

I still tune into the CBC every so often, but find myself more drawn to BBC World and occasionally CNN. CBC – although an excellent news outfit – just wasn’t all that interesting anymore. The reporters always covered their stories in the same style, anything innovative usually being a documentary done by an independent person and bought by the CBC.

That’s probably why they recently did a complete rebranding of their news coverage, I’m obviously not the only person who they’ve lost as a regular viewer over the years.

So, when I recently tuned into the newly revamped “The National” I was eager to see what changes the executives at CBC made to win me back.

What a disappointment – aside from the set, and on-screen graphics, e

CBC Newsworld logoImage via Wikipedia

verything was good old fashioned chisel chinned CBC. All the stories were reported in the exact same, cardboard-cut-out, textbook journalism method they have always been.

That’s great if you’re using the CBC to train wanna-be journalists, but not so good if you’re trying to win back lost viewers.

I was expecting new and innovative ways to report on the things happening in the world around us. Instead, I got the same boring cookie cutter stuff the CBC has been dishing out for over 20-years.

CBC anchor Peter Mansbridge – a great Canadian journalist – continues to host the flagship “The National” just as he always has, from behind an anchor desk.
He’s standing behind the desk, and occasionally they bring in a reporter standing across from him to provide some “live” dialogue – but other news stations have been doing this for years.

The news pieces still tell the basic story – but they don’t dive deeper. In fact, some were already out of date. They had a story about what happens to your digital life when you die – your facebook, Twitter, blog and other social networking sites. This story broke on many of those social networks three-weeks earlier, and CNN and the BBC had already run stories on this at least two-weeks earlier.

Where was CBC three-weeks ago?

It was a Thursday night, and that meant they had their regular poli

Taken myself at an awards ceremony for Scouts ...Image via Wikipedia

tical panel, which also hasn’t changed in several years – same people, same topics, same opinions. They are interesting to watch, they’ve been doing this political panel for so long, and everyone has chemistry between and among them. But it’s all the same song and dance.

Then they had their editorialist Rex Murphy – he’s an amazing writer, but despite the zillion years he’s been doing the same thing on the same television show, you’d figure he’d learn to write for television. He doesn’t sound like he’s reading, but his dialogue is clearly written for the printed page – he went on to emphasize bullet points about what the Canadian Liberal leader needs to do to be the leader. Bullets work well in print – in broadcast they sound crass, elitist, and academic.

Actually much of Rex Murphy’s commentary would read well, but was too long winded and wordy for television. In print, you can take your time, re-read sections if you want to – can’t do that on TV or radio. Well I suppose you can thanks to PVRs/Tivoli – but that’s no excuse. It is just as important to write for your intended audience as it is to write for your intended media in this multimedia world. And Rex Murphy isn’t new to broadcasting, he’s been doing the same thing, for the same network forever.

For a rebranding of their news outfit, CBC didn’t do much more than slap a new coat of paint onto an old wall. Essentially it was nothing more than a patch job, using new computer-generated graphics. And that is really too bad, because I only saw one show, and already could see the paint peeling and falling off.

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