When Global announced last month that there would be yet more centralization of local programming in eastern Canada, I didn’t exactly have my hopes up. They promised the centralization of resources would only affect non-local stories, and that the amount of actual local stuff would remain the same or even improve.
This week was the first under the new system for Global Montreal Morning News. And my analysis of the episodes that have aired so far suggest that Global has not lived up to that promise.
Not only that, but the melding of local and national elements creates this confusing mess of different on-camera personalities that is no better than someone switching channels at every commercial break.
Two shows in one
Like other morning shows, Global’s Morning News is broken up into six half-hour blocks, which are in turn broken up into three segments separated by commercial breaks. Here’s how the average half-hour block breaks down, rounded to about the nearest minute:
- :00 Welcome/coming up plus quick weather hit
- :01 Traffic
- :02 Local news (including one packaged report)
- :08 Local weather
- :10 Commercial break
- :12 National segment
- :19 Commercial break
- :21 Local weather
- :23 Traffic
- :24 Local interview segment (or two packaged reports)
- :27 Commercial break
That national segment, which is about seven minutes (we were told eight last month) is the new part. The local show is essentially replaced by Global Toronto’s morning show with Jeff McArthur and Liza Fromer (McArthur alone until 7am), which tries not to be too Toronto-centric during that block.
But rather than just be a presentation of national news, the Toronto Morning Show also features interviews and host banter. Combined with the local show, which still features interview segments (but not nearly as many) and we’re left with a Frankenstein’s monster of segments that can be from five or six sets in two studios in two cities. The anchors of the two shows never communicate with each other, so there’s no flow between them. It’s like the Morning News has been fractured into 18 shows, of which 12 are local and six are from Toronto.
What’s worse is the quality of the national programming. The packaged reports are fine, since they’re the same things you’ll find on Global National or the Toronto News Hour the night before. But the banter between the hosts is a cringe-worthy display of uninformed opinions on the news, filled with “I don’t know”s and “I’m not sure”s and basing their opinions on sweeping generalizations instead of the facts. Rather than take 30 seconds to research a subject on Google before talking about it, the hosts prefer to waste our time making assumptions or talking out of their asses.
In fact, it took only until Day 3 for McArthur to prompt a shitstorm on Twitter for suggesting during one of these uninformed banter segments that a female comedian who was sexually harassed while on stage had “agreed to” derogatory comments because it’s part of the job and she has to “prepare for that”, and suggesting she was ridiculing audience members’ appearance based on absolutely no evidence that she had done so.
It was not my intention to offend anyone. @GlobalnewsTO @morningshowto & I don’t support victim blaming
— Jeff McArthur (@jmacspeaks) May 21, 2015
Half Montreal, half Toronto
Based on the first three episodes of Morning News, the amount of local programming has demonstrably decreased. There are only three local interview segments through the three hours, with the other before-the-half-hour blocks filled with “health news” or other packaged reports from national or local newscasts.
This is a marked decrease from the last few weeks of the old program, which had four to six local interview segments, some of which ran much longer than four minutes. There have been no musical guests on the show, partly because musical guests was a Richard Dagenais thing and partly because with the interview and performance the segment would go on for eight to 10 minutes and there’s just not enough time for that anymore under the new format.
In all, each half hour block has about 15 minutes of local content (and most of that is news, weather and traffic), eight minutes of national content and seven minutes of commercials. The union representing Global Montreal employees said it would look at the new morning show with a stopwatch in hand, and that’s what they’ll find in their analysis unless changes are made quickly.
What’s left of local
With Richard Dagenais gone, and the show losing a control room director and an associate producer, what’s left of the local segments aren’t as horrible as you’d expect them to be. Camille Ross still does well as a news anchor and interviewer, and Jessica Laventure is still warm and fun as the weather presenter. Technical errors seem to have crept up again, but they’re not as horrible as they were when Morning News first started.
But the dynamic between Ross and Laventure isn’t what it was between Ross and Dagenais. Instead, they perform their functions and hand the show back to each other. It’s not that they’re not friendly, it’s just that they have too much to do and no spare time to chat. Maybe they’ll find some way to get some interaction back into the show, but at this point it looks like the only how-was-your-day discussion we get is the stuff that’s piped in from Toronto.
No big goodbye for Dagenais
People who saw only Camille Ross on the anchor desk this week might have wondered what happened to Richard Dagenais. His last show was last Friday, and he didn’t use that opportunity to say any on-air goodbye. The show ended with a simple end-of-show wave from the co-host.
He explained a bit later in a Twitter conversation.
@fagstein gotta say – I barely got through the standard see-you-Monday wave! Anything more Steve – and I would have lost it.
— Richard Dagenais (@Dagenator) May 15, 2015
So now he’s a free agent. Here’s his demo reel in case you have a job opening:
UPDATE: Dagenais has opened up a bit on his blog, and describes the day he was told he was losing his job:
It was Thursday April 9th and as I sat editing an interview for our “best of the week” show, my boss asked to see me in her office. She told me my job had been cut. Her words pelted my forehead like searing acid, burning their way into my brain and slowly sinking downward to my heart.
Like anyone who is the victim of job cuts, you wonder how, in the end, all your contributions can be worth so little. The pouring of dedication, energy, creativity, vision, talent, discretion, health, determination and so many other qualities, amount to nothing more than a perfunctory severance payment.
I’ve had my jobs cut before but this show, project and work meant more to me. I can honestly say I never took the hosting position for granted and I had said to Camille many times what a thrill it always was to hear my name announced as each new half hour of the show opened! Having my name attached to a show was an exciting first for me!
New late-night and weekend anchors announced
Global Toronto has shuffled its on-air lineup after its previous evening news anchor resigned. Though it’s not specified in the press release, Shaw Media confirms to me that the anchors named to the 11pm and weekend newscasts will be the ones who will do those newscasts for Montreal and other markets that are getting local news outsourced.
Anchoring the 11pm newscast, which will be expanding to an hour, are Crystal Goomansingh and Antony Robart, both veterans of Global Toronto. Anchoring the weekend newscasts will be Kris Reyes, who some Montrealers may have seen on the national version of The Morning Show at 9am.
Changes to the late and weekend newscasts are expected to take place by fall.
There will always be issues in a change like this. The most difficult is for the two local Toronto people who have been pushed into a national position, but without a complete change in the way they are doing things.
Fromer is an experienced player in the Toronto morning show world (you can trace her all the way back to Video and Arcade Top 10 on YTV), and she spent a fair bit of time with the City TV morning show… a lifetime in the business, shall we say. However, she has always general been doing the light and banter-y stuff that comes with a local morning show (she use to do traffic), and she doesn’t have a whole lot of experience in appealing to a broader national audience without a connection.
McArthur sort of has the same issue. He’s local Toronto radio talent, and much of his focus has been that market. It’s pretty understandable that these two people will generally end up falling back on their local knowledge, and some of the more local influences will get in. No doubt there is a fair amount of discussion and debrief going on after every show to see where these two are going and if they are in fact the right pairing for this sort of deal.
Technical issues (like graphics overlays) are something that will almost certainly clear up over time. This is a big change and there will always be problems, especially with what is basically an entirely new (and much more complicated) way of doing things.
I also think the local segements will likely pick up after a couple of weeks. I am guessing they made a solid decision to keep it simple and straight forward for the first couple of weeks under the changes to see how it plays out. There is potentially a lot of work for a single anchor that has to handle all the local segements, so going with a more filler “local and national news” on a couple of the segments, at least at the start, isn’t a bad thing. It’s better than screwing up seriously on live TV!
Isn’t YTV also a national broadcast?
YTV is available nationally, but at the time that she was there, it was pretty much a local cable channel level production that happened to have national distribution. Video games, 8 year old kids, and a guy named Nicholas Picholas… you know this ain’t the big times! She has spent most of her career floating around the Znaimer CityTV world in Toronto, and really hasn’t had big amounts of national broadcast time.
Except on the national Morning Show, which airs weekdays at 9am on Global.
..and which is still a Toronto-centric piece.
I don’t like the new format at all. It was especially confusing for me as I spent two weeks in hospital and no access to television. One reason I was watching Global in the mornings was because I don’t like CTV’s format. I want the local news to dominate. This new format is confusing and I was used to Camille Ross with Richard Dagenais. Now I’ll have to switch to City TV and hope that they maintain a stable format.
Its the only Global news I watch regularly.
I can already watch people from Toronto on Canada AM or that other show on City TV.
I’ve only seen Jeff McArthur twice and that’s enough, I won’t be watching in the future.
Trying to broaden a local show to appeal to a national audience always fails. It reminds me of when in the late 90’s Lowell Green of CFRA Ottawa syndicated his morning radio show nationwide.
That’s not really what’s happening in this case, though. They’re replacing local with national to save money, not to appeal to more people.
Looks like this was not implemented at Global BC/Calgary/Edmonton… they still have their morning shows intact.
That is correct. The changes announced don’t affect any of the local programs in those three markets, because they’re popular enough to warrant having their own staff.
Sorry but the new format of the Toronto morning news is terrible . . No commoradity or variety of opinions and insights . . NO WELCOME FEELING or comedic effort . .real sad to see a good thing gone bad
I used to watch Global in the morning since it was a local show end to end.
Since they brought these national Toronto segments I am no longer watching.
I predict that viewership will diminish to levels where it will be either canceled or replaced with a full Toronto broadcast like the one from CTV that for me is un-watchable.
The American networks do a much better job blending a national broadcast from New York with local segments at the half hour.
I can not understand and you do not explain as to why richard is not on the news channell anymore, did he get fired or wqhat?
He was laid off as part of an effort to centralize programming more in Toronto. More details about that here.
This is a great breakdown and I agree with every word.
I have been a daily viewer for a long time. I actually came to the show after reading something you wrote about it only having 500 viewers. Losing Richard Dagenais was tough but the decline really started when they began having Jessica Laventure do her weather segments from Barbie’s restaurant EVERY DAY for no apparent reason. There was never an explanation that I heard. She was just there doing a TV weather segment in a mid-priced breakfast joint for some reason..I suspect it’s for the same reason that Fromer and McArthur have a “McCafe” mug prominently displayed on their desk every morning. Come to think of it, I don’t think it’s every day because she does turn up in the studio once in a while but it’s several times a week.
I enjoy all 3 (2) of them but Jessica is really the star of the show. She has a great “hey look at me, I’m on TV!” attitude that is a breath of fresh air early in the morning. She used to appear all over town doing live remotes that were fun. Now she’s at Barbies. Sadly, I’m finding the show less and less watchable and often don’t turn the TV on at all in the morning any more.
I really dislike all the changes to my morning show. I enjoyed the great working chemistry that Liza, Rosie, Liam, Kris & Robert had. I would leave the show on every morning & listen as I worked. I am really struggling to leave the channel on.
I agree with you Carol, I enjoyed the show with the cast you mentioned. I’m not liking the new cast or format. I initially tuned in because I like Liza and now she is seldom on. They seem to be replacing her with Carolyn…not a fan of her or Jeff. Too bad, they have made a huge mistake in my opinion and it seems many others too!!
I totally agree. Carolyn is so busy trying to read the news vs reporting it! The new guy doing the weather who is very good (got kinda tired of Rosie’s banter) could use a little support from the tech guys in getting the right weather modules up on the screen. What happened to everyone did they get demoted?
The Morning news broadcast on October 5th with political commentary on Canadian politics close to the end of the show was incredibly one sided! Both hosts along with their two guests were bashing the Conservative party while discussing the battle between Tom Mulcair and Justin Trudeau. If I see this one sided reporting again I will intentionally avoid this channel in the future. I would like to see a more balanced look at all parties including the Green Party, rather than a bigoted bashing from the hosts and guests. Try to give a more open approach and give Green a platform rather than disregarding them!
i love Jeff& liza together
i only started watching Global because of them
my feet touch the floor in the morning because i
know i can make coffee watch & listen
the duo works
I like it.
I too like Liza & Jeff, when is she coming back if ever?
I returned after a 2 year hiatus and am trying to figure out what happened to the show I used to start my day with. What happened to Liza, Rosie, Liam, Kris & Robert? I some of them on different shows here and there, and Liam is on weather, but really….! I do not enjoy the current morning show format at all. Boring.
Carolyn is great on any segment and pairs up well with Jeff. Liam is very good and so natural and genuine! Jeff needs to open up a little more about himself, but really adds to the show. I love enjoying my morning coffee while watching the Morning show!
I miss Liza and Jeff. They were great together and why I started watching Global. Stopped watching.
Love watching Jeff & Caroline. I found Liza was arrogant and didn’t come across as an easy going personality