Kevin Newman’s 10-year career

Kevin Newman says goodbye in his last Global National

In my few years as a professional in the news business, I’ve been witness on a few occasions to retirement speeches. A gathering of staff over slices of cake, presentation of some parting gift, and a speech – sometimes emotional – by the retiree.

In most cases, it’s because the person has taken a buyout and retired early. They might have spent 20 years there, or 30, or even 40 or more. They’ve been present through so much change, developed so many memories, and their lives become so connected with their jobs that letting it all go becomes a watershed moment. The emotion is entirely understandable.

Hell, I’ve been through the process myself. As recently as January I sent a goodbye email to my fellow employees, letting them know that my contract had ended and I would no longer be a colleague. A goodbye party followed soon after. (Little did I know at the time that my departure would be for exactly one month instead of the forever I had imagined.)

But even keeping that in mind, I find it just a bit silly that Global National spent more than half its newscast on Friday (12 out of 22 minutes) on the subject of anchor Kevin Newman leaving the show after a whopping 10 years.

The videos are online in case you want to see them. There’s three minutes worth of tributes from politicians, fellow journalists, Lloyd Robertson, Peter Mansbridge and Charlie Gibson (all with Newman’s reactions in the bottom corner). There’s five minutes worth of memories from his days at Global National, reporting on the Sept. 11 attacks and the war in Afghanistan. And there’s the three-minute farewell at the end of the show, in which he almost starts crying as he thanks his family (the text of that statement is also online). Or you can just watch the whole newscast, which also includes some actual news.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s nice when these things are acknowledged. I enjoyed when CFCF gave veteran reporter Herb Luft a proper sendoff this summer, and when it brought back memories of Bill Haugland during his last newscast. But those seemed more heartfelt, more natural, and less scripted than Newman’s speech. And we were talking about people who spent all or almost all of their careers in one job (and who were actually retiring), unlike Newman. It just seems like Newman’s sendoff was more about his ego than anything else.

Maybe it’s because Newman anchors his newscast alone, and so in effect he had to say goodbye to himself. Kind of an awkward position to be in. Maybe it’s because to be a national anchor you have to have a giant ego.

I can’t blame him too much, because I also have a massive ego, and I’d take every chance to give a long goodbye speech on national television.

Still, if they spent 12 minutes on Newman, I can just imagine the show they’ll put on when Lloyd Robertson says his goodbye.

Global sucks: Newman

There was, of course, a news story to accompany Newman’s departure from the news service that split off from his employer’s company. It includes this telling quote from Newman about what it’s like at Global:

But the transition from seven years in a well-financed American newsroom wasn’t easy, he recalls: “I was accustomed to things working all the time because they were well-resourced. This show (Global National) has always been one step from the abyss every night, because it’s so early (it airs at 5:30 p.m., versus CBC and CTV’s 9 and 10 p.m. newscasts), it has relatively few resources, and the only thing that prevents our viewers from seeing it is the quality of the people behind the camera to rescue it every day. Over time, that’s stressful for the people who work on it, and probably helps contribute to the fatigue that I feel.”

It was meant, I’m sure, to highlight the hard work of his colleagues, but reads to me like Newman thinks Global didn’t invest enough in its television newsgathering.

Looking at our local Global station, whose newscast has always seemed like that forgotten stepchild that’s kept in the basement and fed just enough table scraps to stay alive and be a source of welfare money, I can just imagine what it’s like at other Global stations and Global National (even though they have much more funding).

The Global Television Network is now in the hands of Shaw Communication (pending regulatory approval). They have the power and the money to turn that around.

But I won’t hold my breath.

14 thoughts on “Kevin Newman’s 10-year career

  1. Ohara

    I was happy when Global and Kevin Newman came to Quebec. It and he were alternatives to the same old same old.
    Haugland was always great, but the supper time newscasts did not leave us much choice. Ever since Yvan Hunault left the CBC, and until they launched their latest lineup, the CBC supper newscast was barely worth watching.
    Is Newman retiring or is he off to another network?
    Let’s hope Friesen can fill the anchor shoes. I think Global learned from their failed pick up of Mike Bullard and were more careful with the anchor choice.

  2. Peter Anthony Holder

    While some might see Kevin’s departure on the air a bit over the top, I have to disagree for one reason. Even though he was only there for ten years, it is without a doubt that as the first anchor and the man who molded the broadcast, there wouldn’t be a Global National at all, if it weren’t for him.

    It has won awards and picked up many accolades in it’s short decade, both for the show and it’s host. I doubt that any other Global National anchor will get such a sendoff because this show was truly Kevin’s baby. That’s what the sendoff was about. Seeing the show he literally created grow to what it is.

    That paragraph from his departure story, however, does speak volumes.

    1. ATSC

      I try and watch the 11pm CKMI-TV news. But, there really is only 10 minutes worth of local stuff. All the rest seems like out of market filler. I change channel.

      Also, I think having the 6pm local news at the same time as CFCF-TV and CBMT-TV is wasteful. A 7pm newscast would be much better for people getting home a little later from work. Sorry, but those Hollywood gossip shows that air between 7-8pm are of no use to anybody.

      As are all those speciality channel shows that act as Canadian content filler on the CKMI-TV schedule. Get rid of this stuff.

  3. Global??

    Global in Montreal is really a FOX affiliate. Hopefully SHAW will make it better. No one watched the news on Global. Global Quebec didn’t even care about Montreal. I remember during the Dawson shooting, all the local stations quickly had people on the scene reporting. Global ran a soap opera with no cut ins. When I wrote to Global about this they tried to distract me from the question by saying CTV had people from the national news room reporting, which I guess in Global’s eyes this makes the reporting illegitimate. Whereas Global would have used local talent if they were available to be dispatched, which it appears they weren’t. So American soaps trumped local tragedy, and Global kept touting how they are “your local” station or whatever BS touchy feely they were trying to portray at the time.

    1. ATSC

      “Global in Montreal is really a FOX affiliate.”


      How dare you lower FOX to that level.

      Sorry, but WFFF-DT (44.1) in Burlington, VT can blow away any of the English Montreal stations. They run at least 16 hours of local news a week.

      Plus they supply the newscast for WVNY-DT (22.1) as well.

  4. AlexH

    Global News is pretty much a disaster. You hit it right on the head, the local news has been treated like an unwanted stepchild, and that contributes very directly to the National News being a very weak product. When you don’t have good local coverage, it is very hard to “elevate” stories and give them the national perspective that perhaps they deserve. It keeps you short of bodies on the ground to cover breaking news, and pretty much makes you last with coverage all the time.

    When Global first came to Montreal (Quebec actually) there was good local news coverage, it almost looked like they might poke the staid and tired CFCF12 into moving forward and doing something useful. Instead, the product withered on the vine, and the full CTV treatment on CFCF pretty much made the point moot. Now the only local news in Montreal is found on TVA networks.

    Without the local news support, the National on Global has always been weaker, a Western Canada leaning hodge podge that isn’t working. I can’t remember anyone saying to me “did you see the story on Global about…” because I don’t think I know anyone who watches them for news. Heck, most of us on cable or sat wouldn’t ever watch them if it wasn’t for forced signal substitutions.

    Good bye Kevin, don’t let the door hit your butt on the way out (not that anyone would notice).

  5. RBM

    It seems like Global gets gradually worse the further east you get in this country. While the western Global stations (especially BC, Edmonton, and apparently Saskatoon) are #1 or hold their own against CTV for ratings in their markets, the eastern stations are in the basement and can’t even cover their respective markets properly.

    You can probably say the same thing about CTV where they’re dominant in Toronto, Montreal, and the Maritimes, while CTV BC is so far behind it’s not even funny.

    1. AlexH

      I have a feeling that it has much to do with the overall spin and tone of the news. Global’s news seems to resonate better with a more conservative crowd, where as CTV’s news tends to be a little more of the Liberal bent. It is odd that CTV has the more conservative programming lineup otherwise, and Global is more of the wing nut / reality crowd.

      It is no different when AM940 tried to run Charles Adler. Even though he grew up in Montreal, he is just too conservative of a radio host to really resonate with the local people. Global faces the same issues in Quebec, as their presentation (and Newman’s on air personality) is stolid and super conservative. It’s just not the best mix in this market, I think.

      1. Fagstein Post author

        It is odd that CTV has the more conservative programming lineup otherwise, and Global is more of the wing nut / reality crowd.

        The difference between CTV and Global programming has little to do with political views. Either will take whatever is most popular in the States. Unfortunately for Global, CTV has more money to spend, so except for some hits like House, CTV tends to get the better choices.

  6. Anonymous

    Respectively disagree with PAH’s statement that ” there wouldn’t be a Global National at all, if it weren’t for him.”
    As he and so may other broadcasters have learned of late, there is always someone else to step into the breach.

  7. Josh

    The thing is, when you look at the ratings for the three national newscasts side-by-side, Global and CTV really aren’t that far apart, and CBC trails badly. I always had trouble understanding why that was – why so many people are tuning in to an inferior product (Kevin Newman being the major selling point I realize, but, let’s face it, Global has as he says fewer correspondents and less money).

    Then I moved out west. Global dominates the local suppertime ratings in many markets out here and many people keep their TVs on through Global National as a matter of habit.

    1. Fagstein Post author

      The problem with comparing Global National with CTV National News or CBC’s The National is that you’re comparing apples and oranges. Global National airs at 5:30, while CTV is at 11 (when everyone has gone to bed) and CBC is at 10 (when everyone is watching prime-time drama).

      Global has always had a stronger presence out west, while CTV’s strength is more in eastern Canada, particularly Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal.

  8. James

    Yes, some of the reflections and editing did make it seem like an obituary tape, not a retirement tape. Biggest surprise of the night was seeing that there is actually an office with people in it behind the automated cameras. I always imagined Kevin Newman sitting on his own in a green box having directs shouted into his ear piece by editors and producers on the other side of the country.

    1. Fagstein Post author

      I always imagined Kevin Newman sitting on his own in a green box having directs shouted into his ear piece by editors and producers on the other side of the country.

      No, that’s just the local anchors.

      Correction: Actually, you’re right. He is in a green room with the newscast controlled out of Vancouver.


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