Friday, June 19, 2009

The Contingencies of Political Reporting

As I mentioned yesterday, today is the last day of Don Newman on CBC's Newsworld. And of course we are wallowing (and laughing) in history. But the history shows how extraordinary he was at maintaining relations with numerous colleagues and politicians while never coddling them nor letting the pressure off.
I have NO idea whether CBC can fill this hole ever again. My own guess is no, but who knows.
I feel the puniness of Canadian political reporting every Sunday morning, as I leave the Stephanopoulos and Wallace morning shows on US politics and have to wander over to CTV's offering. I rarely last the whole hour. It is of course not just the journalists, as the scale is so much smaller here in Canada, but it is also the journalism.
The only thing I have found comparable is Don Newman's daily work at 5pm on weekdays.
What will CBC do now?
I am VERY curious.
One of the most awkward things about this tribute show is that the CBC has lined up its successor candidates to participate, but they must surely know how they measure up comparatively, and that must be tough.
Too sad - Newman picks his best CBC journalist, unknown to me, and it turns out HE is also retiring today. This does not bode well.
This show is very moving - it is a ride across the top of the last 30 years of our politics. The 30 years when I most cared about it.
The tributes just get better - Peter MacKay recalls as a newwly fledged MP hearing people wonder who it was talking to Don Newman when they saw him in Ottawa, and Dalton McGunity, with typical Ontario Liberal nanny state concern, suggests Don should now tend his garden better. As for celebrity, walking into Nicholas Hoare books on Front Street before a Canadian Stage production a few years ago, exactly as Don walked out, set the little tremble off up my leg. :-) Maybe not quite the equivalent of Terry Bradshaw for a half hour, but close!
And this is too believable - a few minor league regional reporters lines up to talk about how well he treated them - not every national reporter did. Seems utterly credible.
My guess is I won't make watching this show a priority ever again. I will regret that but I will test the decision often enough to know whether the decision is arbitrary.
(Very sweet thing from Rosemary Barton who points out she had no opportunity to recall Mulroney as PM but that Don took her seriously as a co-reporter through various recent Mulroney stuff.)
The CBC is a lot weaker right now. We shall see what they do.


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