the new CBC news

Accidentally, bewilderingly, I watched CBC's The National the other night.

I see they're making Peter Mansbridge stand up now. No more sitting down on the job for you, Peter. CBC is getting serious about selling the news! How making Peter Mansbridge stand around, looking sheepish, will accomplish this, I don't know. Maybe it makes him seem more dynamic. Certainly it makes him less anchored behind the news desk. You know: like a news anchor. Now he looks like he's in line for something. Now it's like the coffee counter at Starbucks. Or the line-up for some H1N1 vaccine.

They have snappy music, too. Crystalline new-media-type music, the kind that even *sounds* shiny. The new set is vast, expansive ... so much so that I thought the weather guy -- just within shouting distance of Peter -- might get sucked into the whirling-cloud vortex of his own map.

Why does CBC do this? If they want to more people to watch the news, all they have to do is tell richer stories. I don't want news in gleaming bits, offered up by grinning Peters. I want deep stories, in many parts. I want complex, investigative journalism. I want some people (sitting) at a table, talking at length about issues, or history, or culture. I do. I'll even take the time to download it. In fact I do it all the time, from the BBC.

I guess I just like to hear smart people taking the time to say interesting things.

Never is the CBC more embarrassing than when it tries to be flash. The 'hip' stuff it does have comes in long, relaxed formats -- Definitely Not the Opera, Q -- where it has the time and space to stay low-key and keep the self-awareness to a minimum. But when it tries to *announce* its coolness, its now-ness -- and here there is no more egregious example than the embarrassing audio spectacle called GO! -- then Mother Corp starts to look like an old drag queen out way past her bedtime.

The slogan for the 'new' news is "At the end of the day, it's what you know that matters." Well, the CBC is over seventy years old now. That's old enough to know who it is: too old to care about being trendy, and certainly old enough to be offered a comfortable chair.


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