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Why can’t the news be about news?

17 August 2013 No Comment

The Sun’s 24-hour news service’s current predicament is excellent news for Canadians, thanks to the CRTC’s decision against mandatory distribution.

The regulator ruled that Sun News did not successfully demonstrate that it meets the necessary criteria for mandatory distribution, However, it’s now going to review the framework for news services in order that “Canadian news services should be given a pride of place within the multitude of news and information services available to Canadians” and it allowed that there is a larger, more systemic issue in ensuring that Canadian national news services have the opportunity.

Sun News Network

Sun News Network (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The fact that we are even discussing Canadian television news has got to be a good thing.  We need better access to news; we need better news services, period.

I have to admit, that since returning to Canada two years ago after living abroad almost 20 years, I’ve pretty much given up on TV news here. I’ve tried early morning news, dinner time and late night news programs and they all seem to serve up a steady stream of human interest stories, magazine-style softball interviews and presenters’ banter. There tends to be very little international news coverage and celebrity gossip is given unnecessary prominence.

It’s sad really that a news junkie like me never even considers turning on the tube to get the headlines.

Yes, I know, I’ve been spoiled by the BBC which does a pretty good job of TV news, but with a 20-year career in the media industry, I have a solid understanding of how news rooms operate, the skills and talents of news professionals and the actual business of reporting the news. I think Canada’s TV news can do better.

I totally get that the Internet has completely disrupted the media industry and now, almost two decades into the connected era, news organizations still haven’t figured out a business model that works. When I heard that Amazon’s Jeff Bezos bought the Washington Post, my first thought was, “He’s got really deep pockets, so hopefully he can take the time necessary to figure out a smart new model that will work for the industry.”

What we have now certainly isn’t working. The traditional news media is on its knees…revenues don’t come close to being able to support the costs of quality reporting and we’ve barely begun to see how the paucity of hard news coverage is affecting young Canadians’ view of their world. This doesn’t bode well for the future.

Let’s hope all this debate and discussion created by the CRTC’s decision and ongoing review will lead to thriving, diverse range of  Canadian TV news services that are not only watchable, but are relied upon as a source of information, news and informed analysis.

This article was originally posts on ThornleyFallis.ca

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