When Global TV decided to have late-night and weekend newscasts for its less popular markets anchored out of Toronto, it described it as an innovation, a way to increase local news instead of reducing it.
The day before it began in Montreal, it was described as something that will “allow for more local news gathering in the field.”
While it’s still early to judge something so new, after watching a few episodes of the newscast, I think I can at least evaluate Global’s promise of “more local news gathering”, at least as far as it concerns those newscasts:
It’s total bullshit.
The amount of local news gathering is about the same on weekends. What’s different is that it’s now presented by an anchor who has at best a vague understanding of the local market. Not that one is necessary for most of the show because after the first 10 minutes or so it stops reporting on local news.
Let’s break down the newscasts to explain this.
The show starts with the usual teasers and an announcer saying “From the Global News Centre, the Evening News with Kris Reyes.”
Global’s use of green-screen virtual sets means Global can make Reyes appear to be anywhere just by inserting the word “Montreal” behind her in a computer.
The same goes for the Montreal skyline inserted behind her at the desk when she presents more local news. It almost looks like she’s in the Global Montreal studio.
Coming back from the first commercial break, the background changes. Suddenly she’s in front of a control room that has lots of screens but no people. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that this corresponds to the part of the local newscast devoid of local news. Putting Reyes in a generic could-be-anywhere set allows Global to produce part of a newscast filled with national and international news and copy-paste it into local newscasts across the country.
This is similar to what they’ve done with the Morning News, which goes back and forth between local and national segments.
Another commercial break and we’re back to the Montreal cityscape, and an usual sight for Global, the weather presenter sitting at the anchor desk. This wasn’t possible before because the weather presenter has been in Toronto for years. Moving the anchor there too means they can be seen on camera together instead of in a double box.
Judging by the radar maps used, the weather segments appear to be recorded 1-2 hours before the newscast. That’s not much worse than before — because the weatherman was shared with Global Toronto, they were prerecorded before this change too. And weather forecasts don’t change that much in an hour (says the guy whose newspaper includes weather forecasts which, by the time anyone reads them, are at least 12 hours old).
Back to Generic Set, and Reyes introduces Megan Robinson doing the sports roundup. Previously, Global Montreal’s local newscasts didn’t have sports segments because they didn’t have sportscasters. (They’d do quick highlights of local games, but that’s about it.)
Of course, the Blue Jays are the top story. Even though Michael Sam had made history the previous night in an Alouettes game, neither Sam nor the game made the Aug. 8 sports roundup. But you’ll be happy to know that they got in a roundup of the Shaw Charity Classic golf tournament in Calgary.
After more time-filling news stories from elsewhere, Reyes does a goodbye that seems to be carefully generic so it can be copy-pasted anywhere. Heck, they could just rerun the same clip at the end of every newscast every day. She might not be wearing the same dress next time, but if viewers haven’t spotted all the other trickery going on, they probably won’t notice that.
Finally, a 30-second collection of cityscape videos that appear to have been taken in the spring because people are wearing sweaters and winter jackets, we’re off to Global National.
The first newscast had two packaged reports from local reporters. I found this suspicious because normally there aren’t that many local resources available on weekends. Sure enough, the next weekend it was down to one local reporter.
Even with those two local reporters, the total amount of local news represented only six minutes of the local newscast. If you add the weather segments, which are also done out of Toronto, it goes up to 10.5 minutes. Add the 30-second cityscape montage to close the newscast (looks like the timing was off for the first show), and it’s 11 minutes, out of a 22-minute newscast.
Production-wise, the newscast went smoothly (aside from being a bit short). There were no technical errors or awkward silences or glitches that I could see. Having the newscast anchored out of Toronto didn’t seem to be that noticeable, except for the changing backdrops and the awkward pronunciations of French names and the use of terms like “Honoré Mercier” (for the Mercier Bridge) that are dead giveaways that someone isn’t from around here.
Day 2, 3…
For the first late newscast, it was much of the same, except that the sports segment began with a roundup of that night’s Montreal Impact game. A 22-second roundup. Followed by a minute and 20 seconds on the day’s Toronto Blue Jays game.
Day 2, the evening news started four minutes late because of golf, but still finished on time. The evening news sports segment consisted entirely of highlights of the Blue Jays game. At 11pm, it also included PGA golf and the Shaw tournament, and ran through a list of Quebec athletes who won medals at the Parapan Am Games in Toronto.
The second weekend is, I’m assuming, more representative of what we should expect from this newscast. I watched the Aug. 15 6pm newscast with a stopwatch and broke it down. Those elements in bold are local stories:
- 0:00-0:43 Intro
- 0:43-3:00 Billy Shields on missing man
- 3:00-3:24 Accident brief
- 3:24-3:42 Lane closures brief
- 3:42-4:34 Horses brief (SOT)
- 4:34-4:58 PKP wedding brief
- 4:58-5:36 Roosh V Toronto brief
- 5:36-6:47 Weather short-term forecast
- 6:47-7:40 Slide the City brief (SOT)
- 7:40-8:06 Promos
- 8:06-10:25 Commercials
- 10:25-11:08 Trudeau on the campaign trail
- 11:08-11:38 Fires in western Canada
- 11:38-13:29 California drought/fires
- 13:29-15:05 Beijing explosion
- 15:05-15:35 Promos
- 15:35-18:21 Commercials
- 18:21-21:27 Weather forecast
- 21:27-24:26 Sports with Anthony Bruno
- 24:26-24:43 Promos
- 24:43-27:53 Commercials
- 27:53-29:30 Straight Outta Compton story from Florida
- 29:30-30:00 Outro
Added up, this amounts to five minutes and eight seconds of local news. Add in the four minutes and 17 seconds of local weather, and you have 9:25 total in that half hour. Another 8:15 were commercials, 2:36 consisted of promos and the goodbye, 2:59 on sports, and the other 6:45 were national and international news stories. Broken down percentage-wise:
- 17% local news
- 14% local weather
- 10% sports
- 9% promos and filler
- 22.5% national and international news
- 27.5% commercials
When there’s more national and international news than local news, you wonder if it can really be called a local newscast.
Saturday’s late newscast was about the same, though it included a story about Michael Sam leaving football again. The story, whose original reporting consisted of a Skype interview, was reported by Jennifer Tryon out of Toronto.
If only all local news could be reported that way.
This outsourcing of local news is just the latest step in a long process of saving money by centralizing work for small local stations. Even before the change, evening and late-night newscasts were produced in another city, with a weather presenter in Toronto and only local journalists and the local anchor in Montreal. And even before the change, much of these half-hour local newscasts, especially on weekends, were filled with reports from other Global markets or foreign news services.
And though the union has protested the whole way, the last time the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission looked at it, it passed on the opportunity to conclude that Global was no longer producing local programming.
Does the location of the anchor make much of a difference here? We might see the commission be forced to re-evaluate the situation. But it’s hard not to think the boat has already sailed here.
On one hand, Shaw Media is a private company, so it can do what it wants. If it wants to treat local news this way, it can. If it believes that copy-pasting prerecorded segments in Toronto results in a better product than a live local newscast made in Montreal, it can do that.
But on the other hand, it’s trying to sell us on the idea that it’s adding local newsgathering resources when it’s not, and more importantly it’s pretending to the CRTC that this constitutes 30 minutes of local programming when less than a third of it is in any way local.
I understand Shaw’s motivation. The late-night and weekend newscasts have poor ratings. (There wasn’t exactly any protest online when this change happened, because so few people were watching anyway.) And it is adding some resources, including a soon-to-launch noon local newscast.
But I don’t like being deceived, especially by journalists. And so much of this new system seems designed to deceive us into thinking that this is a local newscast when at best it’s half that. If you’re going to anchor a Montreal newscast out of Toronto, just be straight with us instead of using TV magic to try to hide it.
I get that local news doesn’t pay. But local programming is what broadcasters are expected to provide in exchange for the privileges that come with having a television station. If Global doesn’t want to do local news here, maybe it should consider some other form of local programming, or just offer the airtime to community groups that can offer something that truly reflects Montreal.
Because having a Toronto anchor introduce a story from Calgary and calling it local Montreal news is an insult to our intelligence.
The Toronto-produced Evening News and News Final air at 6pm and 11pm, respectively, on Saturdays and Sundays. The weeknight News Final will be similarly moved to Toronto starting in September. Global News at Noon starts Aug. 27.
News at Noon begins
Today was the first episode of News at Noon, a new half-hour local newscast that is produced out of Montreal. Jamie Orchard is the permanent host, but Camille Ross took over those duties today while staff is shuffled because of vacations.
The show had about what you’d expect from a noon newscast: two live hits from reporters in the field (morning reporter Kelly Greig and evening reporter Tim Sargeant), a packaged report from the previous night, and some briefs.
Global Mtl’s first News at Noon: 2 live hits, 5 local briefs with live video + 2 without, 1 package from last night, 1 pack from Alberta.
— Steve Faguy (@fagstein) August 17, 2015
I won’t do a detailed breakdown because I suspect the first show might not be representative of what we should expect on a regular basis. I’ll wait until a future date to give this a more thorough evaluation. But it followed a formula similar to the weekend newscasts, with the first half of it local news and weather and the second half mainly national news and packages and video from other Global stations, particularly in western Canada.
Two of the briefs dated to Saturday, which is a bit of a stretch for a Monday noon newscast. Worse, Global failed to send a camera to the Péladeau-Snyder wedding in Quebec City, so it relied on TVA footage, photos posted to social media and file video of the couple attending Jacques Parizeau’s funeral instead.
Despite all this, it went better than I expected. The production was smooth and it felt more live and local than the stuff I’d been watching on the weekend. We’ll see if they can keep that up.
I don’t know what hope this newscast can have against CTV News at Noon, which has far more reporting resources and viewer loyalty. But it’s better to have this than not to have it.
Always sad when local content / presenters are diminished or sacrificed at the altar of the all mighty dollar. I enjoyed Peter Anthony Holder on weekends as he was someone Montrealers have known for a long time.
As for the professionalism of the newscast, not bad. At least it’s not like the grinding teeth newscasts of Andrew Brennan or Emily Campbell on CJAD.
When the all mighty dollar is worth less because viewer people are watching news, what do you expect to happen?
Well this is disgusting as well as deceiving and I was watching out as well for amount of local content. I,like you, notice these little things because of what I do and most people won’t notice anything major.
Yes they consider Montreal a less popular market than others, but it’s their own fault for short changing us and for thinking that we love Toronto news so much.
Maybe we should start calling it Global Toronto network like we call TSN, Toronto Sports Network.
How do we complain to the CRTC? Do they actually monitor local content like you do so meticulously..?
There’s actually very little news from Toronto on Global News. Most of the stories taken from other markets are from Alberta and B.C., where Global stations are market leaders.
The CRTC has a form for complaints here. Licence compliance issues are dealt with when the licence comes up for renewal, but a complaint can trigger an earlier review if it’s warranted.
The commission doesn’t systematically monitor every station for compliance. It relies on logs and reports compiled by the stations. But it does sometimes review recordings of broadcast weeks to do its own analysis, and requires that stations keep these recordings so they can be requested for later review.
On a bit of tangent, but still in the realm of odd local programming, do you know any reason why the CBC has added the city names to their network promos? I see like ‘CBC Ottawa’ in the corner. (At least less awkward than those 2000-era SRC promos where the city name would appear literally for a couple milliseconds at the end if my memory is correct.) Wondering if there is some odd regulatory advantage to that, like the way that cable channels (particularly Shaw’s), add the name and time of a Canadian program in tiny print to their American show promos.
Seems like a lot of work for little gain, as the stations are now longer really locally-branded.
The correct term for this is a “bug”. There’s no regulatory advantage to using it, and it’s probably done simply so people can identify which station is being seen.
For someone who doesn’t believe anything unless it’s in a press release, you are pretty fast to rush to judgement on this whole thing.
First off, you didn’t compare apples to apples. Do you have a run down of the previous weekend news package? Exactly how much of that was local news (and not national news read by a local news reader)? My guess is the numbers are about the same – and that is only starting out.
Second, I think that commenting on the background is a bit bogus too, considering Global Montreal’s news set is a green screen as well, and the background there is just as fake and put on. The result is the same, and perhaps even a little better now with the weather person being able to be on screen at the same time.
Third, I think that while the anchor may not know as much about Montreal specifically, it’s not really any different from an anchor who moves from say Vancouver to Montreal reading the news on the first day. I am sure that over time the anchor will learn more about Montreal (and the other cities they do news for) and they will get better.
I also think that this is week one of an ongoing process. We don’t know (as an example) if the new format will allow Global Montreal’s local reporters to stock up on human interest and “stories of interest” that are less time sensitive during the week, to be used on the weekends – or perhaps even encouraging longer form material and the like. We don’t know.
Is there really that much difference as to make the local news so much WORSE than before?
Oh yeah… “I won’t do a detailed breakdown because I suspect the first show might not be representative of what we should expect on a regular basis. ”
Why not give the same leeway on both? Biased much?
I am giving the same leeway on both. I waited a week before reviewing the weekend newscast. I’ll do the same for noon.
It’s about the same, yes. I did a similar breakdown of local TV newscasts in 2009.
The background isn’t the problem here (CTV also has a fake skyline background), but the fact that it changes from Montreal to generic newsroom is a symptom of the issue of copy-pasting national segments into local newscasts.
If an anchor is hired and put on the air on a local newscast with no knowledge of the city, that’s also a problem. But I can’t think of a situation where it’s happened recently.
I don’t see why. They’re not in these cities, they’re just reading prompters. This isn’t just Montreal, it’s Halifax, New Brunswick, Winnipeg, Regina, Saskatoon, Lethbridge, Kelowna. Is a Toronto anchor really going to familiarize herself enough with all these cities by reading a few news briefs and story intros?
They could do these things. But they aren’t. Station staff haven’t been told of any plans to do anything like this, nor has Global mentioned it. Global Montreal simply doesn’t have the staff to bag stories for weekend use.
I guess that’s a judgment you’ll have to make for yourself. I’ve laid out the issues pretty clearly here.
So what you are saying is that the new news from wherever had pretty much the same material as it did the week before, time wise, so this is bad somehow?
And also, the changing of a background between segments is somehow bad, unlike say the CTV news where they change camera angle and have a different background?
” local programming is what broadcasters are expected to provide in exchange for the privileges that come with having a television station. ”
I don’t think that the location of the anchor makes a real screaming difference at this point. The local stations (from all of the majors except maybe CBC) can no longer actually put anything on their air by themselves. From playback to switching, it’s all done in some centralized location (usually Toronto). CTV Montreal can no more put a newscast on the air by itself than have the staff flap their arms and fly. They have long since lost that benefit. That Mitsumi Takahashi is in a studio on Papineau street instead of a studio in MIssisauga is really not the most relevant part for the viewers.
If the views of Global (all 20 of them, it seems) are getting the saem amoutn of news, at the same time, qith the same image quality and the same content, moving the talking head doesn’t matter. How long before they computerize the “head”? Will it even matter?
Moreover, if it has also freed up resources or made it possible for them to add a noon newscast that wasn’t there before, are Montreal viewers not in fact better off?
A different set and a different camera angle are not the same thing. I’m also not saying it’s bad, though it is somewhat disorienting not to have consistency there.
I think it does in terms of the on-air product.
I’m not 100% familiar with the technical setup, but CTV Montreal could probably bypass Master Control in Toronto if that became an issue. The only thing done by Toronto during the newscast is the commercials.
That doesn’t mean it’s not relevant.
But an anchor isn’t just a talking head. Before the change, the anchor lined up the newscast, wrote briefs, assigned cameras and did other stuff. And the getting the same amount of news is a problem because Global promised more local news as a result of this change.
The noon news was announced when they decided to cancel plans to expand the late newscast to an hour under this new system. You could argue that everything together is a net benefit in terms of local programming (though that would ignore changes to the morning show), but the overall staffing is about the same as it was before the summer.
I agree with the article. There is something wrong with all of this.
And, I don’t see how they can attract more viewers to this sort of programming. I find myself going to Global Montreal less, and less for local news. My first choice is CBC Montreal, 2nd choice is CTV Montreal.
If they simply offered more episodes per week of Focus Montreal, with local people talking about local issues and concerns, I think it might make the station a better Montreal station, than this fake local news presentations.
Or do a show that’s 10 minutes real local news, and then finish it up with a Focus Montreal style interview, presentation.
There’s more than one way to do a local news shows without making it look like its alien to it’s market.
Global lost the ratings war long ago in Montreal.
Maybe, though if they have local reporters, they might as well use them.
CTV Montreal does interviews during its noon and weekend newscasts. It’s cheap and useful and fulfils the mandate.
So this is endgame right? We are watching the death of local TV news in front of our eyes. As a viewer, I see absolutely no reason to watch such a show. I can get more real local news in 5 minutes from Twitter than I can by watching a twenty minute “local” TV newscast + 10 minutes of commercials. For the first time in my life, I no longer watch any TV news in the morning before work.
BTW – CTV News ran a commerical for running commercials on CTV News the other day. That’s desperation.
Maybe. But consider that most of the people providing that local news on Twitter are employed by the traditional local media.
Bill, of course it’s the end game – technology allows it, it’s cheaper to do it this way, and the same amount of programming goes on air. Fully function local news casts with local switching, local production, and “everything local” is the rotary dial telephone of Canadian broadcasting. It’s a quaint idea that someone will soon use in one of those annoying “do you remember…” things that pop up on Facebook.
It’s a similar reason why CTV went to generic newsrooms all over the country. The longer term goal is likely to slice the local newscast to ribbons, potentially to intigrate a national news desk or national sports news into the whole deal. In Canada, the era of unique ANYTHING from a local station is all but over.
This is utterly pathetic. The Canadian broadcasting system is in the shitter. What’s the point of Canadian TV networks other than to simulcast US programming? Too bad the CBC is so chronically underfunded; only they could potentially offer something different. Canadians are shortchanged – Global (for one) could disappear tomorrow and it wouldn’t make a jot of difference.
As one of the commenters said earlier, this is the end game.
The thousands of people whose careers depend on that network might take issue with that, whether they work in local newsrooms, for national programs or for original Canadian programming that would all disappear.
I’ll give you an example of how bad local news has gotten even without the Global example.
Last night there was a a heavy rain storm in the Montreal area that seemed to start around 10pm.
CBC Montreal’s anchor mentioned the heavy rain storm, then introduces the weather man to tell us about the forecast in the coming days. Basically, the late weather report is a recorded pack which doesn’t reflect the current weather conditions. How nice. For all we know the weather guy went home at 6pm.
But CTV Montreal local news had the weather person sitting with the anchor, and yet I didn’t see or hear any mention of the current heavy rain happening as she was doing the weather report. Perhaps I missed it. Perhaps I mentally tuned out. I don’t don’t think so. So again, you have to wonder how much of that newscast isn’t a recorded pack as well.
So much for getting up to date news, weather etc. Yet giving the impression that somebody is actually there giving us the latest info at the time of the air date.
Global local news is a problem. I think there might even be more problems at hand.
In most cases, the late-night weather is prerecorded. CTV does it at around 7pm, Global some time during primetime. CBC has gone back and forth with prerecording the late weather, I believe. It’s all a question of staffing. If the weather person is going to have a shift starting before noon, then they’re not going to stay until midnight.
I agree about staff shifts.
But, it’s still faking it. Not as much as Global, but still faking it. And a weather event that pops up like last night is when people will tune in to find out what’s up. It’s at those points that you notice how useless local news has become. I would be better informed watching a weather radar channel at this point.
If the only thing you ever cared about was weather, then yes, that’s going to always be true.
CBC Montreal went to pre-recording the late night weather permanently several months ago. Personally I really don’t like it when CTV Montreal does the late-night weather with weather person sitting next to the anchor(faking it’s live).
If you knew it was raining outside, why do you need someone on TV to tell you? This wasn’t a severe thunderstorm or a blizzard, so there was no warning or anything needed, it was just some rain. Talk about looking for something to complain about.
Why do you allow shit like this to be displayed on your website?
“As for the professionalism of the newscast, not bad. At least it’s not like the grinding teeth newscasts of Andrew Brennan or Emily Campbell on CJAD.”
It isn’t relevant, insightful, or fair to the individuals named. You often approve comments that are disrespectful to individuals broadcasters.
Don’y ask me for examples because their are many.
I think you get a kick out of it.
Neither of these people do anything but their best. Although it may not be to the standards of the individuals named, it is nothing but one person’s poisonous opinion.
Try to leave this post unanswered and let readers reach their own conclusion.
You may be misinterpreting “approval”.
I suspect, but don’t know, that it’s to keep out spam. We don’t see the “l made $$$ stuffing envelopes” that constantly appear as comments at some sites. To keep out that junk, you have to look at the messages before they get posted. It’s easy to tell the junk from the legit. Moderating posts is a whole different thing, it requires much more effort, and some set of standards to begin with (otherwise, it won’t be consistent).
In some of the endings of the newscasts. You can see in the corner windows of the set, they forget to insert a picture where it normally is suppose to be one.
Global is a joke.
Looks like Global has moved the Kelowna 11pm and weekend news from Toronto back to Global BC.