Not quite ready for prime time

As someone who has been watching CBC television news since the days of Larry Henderson, Earl Cameron, and Stanley Burke, I was looking forward to the launch this week of the new National. Certainly it was long past time to retire Peter Mansbridge, but four nights of dipping in and out of the National with its quartet of hosts has left me unable to decide if the package works or not.

With all the time they’ve had to plan, the show should have been more polished and professional. As far as I could tell, there was no discernible core to the news judgment. One night the death of a baseball player led the show, another night it was a feature on fentanyl. And, please, could Keith Boag write a little something beforehand rather than just winging it as he did during his meandering on-camera piece about the Virginia elections. Best item by far was Paul Hunter recalling Sandy Hook. International news in general? Apparently no one cares. As for the desk, get rid of it, it’s too much of a distraction.

Among the welcome elements of the forerunner National that made the cut is the At Issue panel with Andrew Coyne, Chantal Hébert and what appears will be a revolving third commentator. Another segment felt all too familiar from times past: a promo for a story from a coming Fifth Estate about a ticket reseller that said all too little. The only relevant video clip was one of those foolish chase pieces with shouted questions at the central figure in the story as he brushed off the investigative reporter by as much as saying, “Shoo fly, don’t bother me.”

But the real question is: do four anchors work? I think not. If one face is not enough for the CBC powers that be, maybe two might make it. If so, give me Ian Hanomansing and Adrienne Arsenault. Andrew Chang and Rosemary Barton don’t belong.



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