Reflections on the CBC

Thanks to my little friend who sends me every single story the CBC runs hammering the NB Power Hydro Quebec deal – I guess it saves me some leg work.

I have been thinking about the CBC quite a bit lately.  I like the CBC.  I know several reporters over there and I do radio commentary from time to time. 

But I think their posture on this NB Power thing is totally inappropriate.  Just about every story I have read from the CBC web site or heard on the radio has been singularly to chip away at the deal – multiple stories every day.

Just about all – there are some that are silly – but just about all of these angles on the story are legitimate – I’m not suggesting otherwise. 

But if the CBC was fair it would provide all the angles from both sides.  This is the largest public policy decision in a generation and the public, which like me views the CBC as a credible source, is only getting one side of the story.  And that’s a shame.

The irony is that people love to hammer the Telegraph-Journal for its bias but if you really look at it (and I do) the TJ editorial and op/ed is mostly supportive but the actual stories on the deal are covering both sides of the issue (thanks again to my friend for sending every negative story from the TJ).

The CBC is disinvesting in New Brunswick – has been for years.  And as someone who would love to see a media industry grow here – documentary production, specialty channels, movie production, etc. – this has been disappointing.  There is great talent in New Brunswick and I think we could have really done something in this area.  I had hoped that when McKenna was chairman of Canwest – he would have thrown us a bone- put some development work down here – but that was not to be.  The CBC as well – nothing here but a little retail presence.

And now it seems to be doing everything in its power to scuttle what I believe to be a good faith effort to address a serious issue that threatens our competitiveness as a location for business investment.

10 thoughts on “Reflections on the CBC

  1. A number of the analyses have come from Bob Jones. I’d like to see him post the numbers and assumptions behind his analyses on the CBC website – if they are there I have not been able to find them. A cynic would suggest that the focus of Mr Jones on the deal, with little time spent on what might happen w/o the deal, is driven by a desire by Mr Jones to maintain his folk-hero status: Predictor of Gas Prices and Mr Honest Numbers on the Deal.

  2. Wow….I am fairly close to agreeing with you wholesale on this one. And I’ll start with The TJ. I think they are bending over backwards to be balanced in their reporting. While the the TJ reporters do not necessarily enjoy the same resources for research as the CBC because of course, as a business, they have to make a profit, I have found no shortage of valid material critical of the proposed deal that has provided insightful, and a fairly good reflection of how the public is reacting.

    Editorially that they like the deal is a no brainer. We know their position, and they own the press. It doesn’t give their arguments any less weight and I read their editorials with that knowledge in mind.
    When they make arguments that seem, well, silly, I see that , but when they make a good point, I see that too . I suspect there I am pretty normal, although there are those that might argue otherwise.:) I don’t read a lot of positive news in the Globe And Mail about Roger’s? Wonder why that is?

    In fact, newspapers pretty much have always reflected the views of its ownership since they were first published and, quite frankly, I think it would be pretty dull otherwise. Everybody loves to hate the local paper.

    As for the CBC, I also think,like you, a are very credible news source, and an incredibly valuable one. I think the absence of the public broadcaster in New Brunswick would be a tragedy, and I do think the CBC treats New Brunswick in a strange way. Why we have three stations has always spoken volumes to me on the politics of those three cities, and how the parochial politics in this province has made it the rural place it is.

    I also think they are not highlighting the pro side in the same way as those opposed, and sometimes they seem to slide into a position of appearing to have a bias.

    Where I differ slightly form your position is I do think it is their job to hold the Government accountable, and that they are showing the holes in the government sales job and it is exactly what they should be doing. THe TJ, for obvious reasons, are not going to invest in this kind of research.

    So if the Government is doing a poor sales job, and the CBC is pointing that out, it may appear as if they are doing everything in their power to scuttle the deal, but maybe that is the government shooting themselves in the foot and not necessarily biased reporting.

  3. It seems that the CBC has taken on the role of trying to offset the spin machine that the government has initiated.

    One can hardly help but to shoot down government rhetoric that utilizes extreme examples, conveniently omits facts and has zero objectivity. As you have pointed out many times with issues like employment figures, the spin is tiring, pathetic and offensive.

    If New Brunswickers were treated with more respect and were presented with objective facts, I think they would be more receptive and I think the CBC would feel less of a need to provide a balancing effect.

  4. This whole issue boils down to respect. The government has a lot to learn about respect and they will not earn public acceptance on controversial issues until they learn what respect is all about. It is time to respect voters rather than respect past political heros.

    For example, regarding the promise not to sell NB Power. Graham initially denied this, then tried to stickhandle around it then finally admitted he changed his mind. Why not have a heart to heart with the people and tell them what led to him changing his mind and get that issue off the table. Instead he irritates the public and entrenches resistance no matter how good the deal might be.

    And the team of spin doctors is also disrespectful. James@GNB takes simmering discontent to a raging boil with his responses that read from a prepared script. People simply do not appreciate this. Tell us the good and the bad and give us your opinion why the good outweighs the bad.

    And people like Keir need lessons in leadership; he is constantly on the attack, is a poor listener and has a sense of arragance that no Maritimer appreciates.

    If there were some respect by objective and honest presentation of the facts that did not sensationalize the situation with terms like ‘crippling debt” perhaps the CBC could be more objective. For now, they are serving a critical counter balancing role.

  5. Any perceived role as a counter-weight to something is likely missing the point.

    Check the ratings for CBC in New Brunswick. Odds are you’ll find that the numbers have changed for the Ceeb since they started projecting the point of view that’s popular in the polls rather than stick to a balanced presentation.

    It would be the first time the Mother Corp has done that either nationally or at the regional level. people think they are somehow immune to ratings forces but if you are fighting internally for resources, having good numbers helps. The surest way to keep resources is to find out what is popular and run that hard and heavy.

  6. Nice try, but I really haven’t seen much balance in the reporting on behalf of the Irving Papers. Sure the CBC sounds like its reporting more against the deal than for the deal. Perhaps because its not a very good deal? Maybe its hard to see the good in this deal because its not really that good and its really filled with a bunch of spin itself to “awe” the public with little info beyond the 5 year “freeze”, which in itself is BS. Why freeze rates for 5 years on a deal that extends to infinity??? What’s the point beyond an obviously see-through attempt at scoring political points.

    This gov’t wore its welcome out with the Atcon debacle in the summer and shouldn’t have expected anything else from the public when it announced this deal with Tyler & Zed’s paw prints all over it.

  7. Part of the problem is the media situation. If we had actual media monopoly laws and if somebody kept Irving in check, then other media would be around. Norway is a tiny country with 200 different newspapers. No doubt Mr. Jones enjoys the pats on the back, he should, but its also his job. In this case the CBC HAS to bend the other way so that the issue itself is seen objectively. You can’t very well say “well, we DON”T expect our govenrment to be objective because they want to sell, and we DON”T expect our media to be objective because they have corporate interests…but we DO expect CBC to be objective”.

    I think this comes down to the old complaint that CBC doesn’t cover enough of David’s stories, and he’s got a point. However, the CBC has been slashed EVERYWHERE. While they have the same problems as other bureaucracies, I know of people taken to lunch at the CBC and been told they literally can’t pay for their lunch. Here in Waterloo we have a population nearby of about a million people who can only get CBC Toronto. You’ve got CBC in Moncton, Fredericton, AND St. John for populations one tenth the size as here.

    IF the CBC could afford more reporters then perhaps there’d be more views. That’s a peeve I have with Harper, who crowed about road construction jobs while axing CBC jobs. One just cancels the other out, and I’d love to see a vital research laden CBC. But of course we know why the feds don’t want to see THAT.

    And I think I see why Poitras is talking about outing clients:) Retaliation?

    Oh by the way. NO official English, French bilingual Country ever succeeds! Besides one! And it Ain’t us!

  9. This is a bit rich and smells like ome sour grapes.

    The CBC is the only media that is actually doing any inverstigating into the potential sale of NB Power. They have systematcially shot down the two largest reason the Graham gov’t has given NBers to sell -reducing Debt and lower power rates. Boom..Boom. Both are now shown to be wrong.

    This is called good investigating journalism.

    Compared to the PR machine for the sell side that is Canadaeast – it is refereshing to see someone actually dig into what the gov’t is trying to sell us and confirm whether it is true or not.

    Balance you say – CBC has been very balanced. They have balanced off the lies that Graham and Co have been feeding the people of NB. If Graham had not have tried to say th eNb Pwer debt was all of sudden part of the overall Gov’t debt CBC would not have debunked it. Same for the power savings. They cherry picked the best possible scenario and sold igt as the norm.

    As far as divesting in NB – I believe the local news hour is back and most of the good reporting on this story are on it.

    Sorry you are getting busted by Jacques on this. If he has sources that confirm his story – that is called journalism Too bad as you will lose a lot of credibiltiy out there.

    Perhaps you could have provided a little more ‘balance’ on your blog about this deal….

  10. Anonymous:
    This whole issue boils down to respect. The government has a lot to learn about respect and they will not earn public acceptance on controversial issues until they learn what respect is all about. It is time to respect voters rather than respect past political heros.

    I believe you’re right on with this. I’ve been writing to all MLA’s (both sides) pointing to this. If, like you say he’d had a little honest heart to heart in August this would be seen more positively without burying the Liberal party for the foreseeable future. No do-overs.

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