True Testing Times

Here’s inveterate curmudgeon Rex Murphy with some pithy observations on Michael Ignatieff’s very bad month, describing the Liberal skipper’s “true testing time” complete with one of his typically hackneyed metaphors involving an embattled ship in a gale…

Speaking of distraught flagships flailing about in a roiling sea of noise and confusion, viewers of CBC’s The National and its various other news offerings will doubtless have noticed (how could they not?) the public broadcaster’s trendy re-branding in an attempt to emulate the “pizazz” of cable networks on American TV. Apparently, I’m not alone in despairing of this “new and improved” approach to delivering the news… Rick Salutin at the Globe & Mail viciously slagged it earlier in the week:

This is all about talking down to dim, self-absorbed viewers, with weak attention spans who don’t care about complex issues or, yuck, details. About “relating’” to them. “Connect,” as Mark Kelley’s new nightly segment is called. But (with apologies to the late Johnny Cochrane) you can’t connect without respect. What you get is a parody of connection.

The CBC execs are beside themselves with the thrill of it. Their endless in-house memos rely heavily on triple exclamation marks as punctuation: “The energy in the building is palpable … The torch has been passed … We have moved from a Buick to a Ferrari …!!!” (Oddly dated images, by the way, and insulting.)

It’s as though it’s all about them: their new sets and graphics, full-page ads, U.S. consultants. Watching CBC news now feels like living inside English-language boss Richard Stursberg’s head, the man who endowed the CBC with a “factual entertainment” department…

Granted, Salutin has an obvious disdain for the CBC due to the broadcaster’s perceived arrogance and supercilious attitudes manifest in its condescending delivery, etc., whereas my irritation in roused more by the superficial, but equally insidious aspects of packaging news as substance-free “infotainment”… With this flashy re-branding of CBC News however, it seems we now have an accretion of the most appalling aspects of both; one that, unfortunately, we’re likely to be stuck with for quite some time.

In a sense, this too might be a “true testing time” for the CBC’s “new look” based on whether the public either: a) reluctantly adapts to it; b) embraces it with enthusiasm; or c) rejects it for the annoying, vacuous tripe that it is. Only time will tell, of course.

I’ll leave it to readers to draw comparisons between the Liberal Party’s installation of Michael Ignatieff as the “new and improved” leader earlier this year and the current “exciting” re-branding of the CBC.