I Love My CBC

It’s been four days since the CBC News updated its visual and sonic identity (details). And I must say that I absolutely love the changes: the typography is clean, crisp and bold, the sonic pageantry is dialed way back, the “graphics for graphics sake” quotient is greatly reduced, and everything seems to have an extra spring in its step.

I even like the new Compass introduction: short, to the point, and great looking.

Favourite change: the [too] subtle “when the item we’re promoting now is coming up” analog clock they used during The National has been replaced with an actual count of the minutes until said item airs: much more useful.

Directional change: Boomer now appears on the other side of Bruce on Compass (I like the new weather graphics too).

Subtlest change: all the Compass reporters got new socks for the ends of their microphones.

I’ve heard lots of grumbling about the CBC “wasting lots of money on stupid design changes when things were perfectly good before.” But I don’t agree: design matters, and I laud any organization that invests in it; good design lets CBC News communicate more effectively, and that makes everything they do more valuable.


Johnny's picture
Johnny on January 14, 2006 - 17:34 Permalink

I think you’ve been drinking the CBC executives Kool-aid. I think it was all a superfluous waste of money. I wish the money could have been spent on getting more reporters permanently stationed in key areas around the globe.

Andrew Chisholm's picture
Andrew Chisholm on January 14, 2006 - 21:30 Permalink

I agree with Johnny. I don’t think their new brand is any better then the last. If they used the money to create something spectacular and originally Canadian, then I would support the design change more, but nothing is better about “CBC News at 6” then “Canada Now”.

I would rather see money spent on local stations to improve news coverage locally. Prince Edward Island receive 10 minutes of news, 5 days a week. A weekend news cast would be a nice start in improving their image with me.

Steven Garrity's picture
Steven Garrity on January 15, 2006 - 01:34 Permalink

My initial impression is positive. Feels more like a refinement than a redesign — which is usually better, since you can fix existing problems without introducing too many more.

It fells like a move towards the style I saw on BBC News this summer.

Kevin O'Brien's picture
Kevin O'Brien on January 15, 2006 - 02:21 Permalink

I was expecting a full hour from Charlottetown, who needs the same national feed three times every evening? (if there was something new at 10 and then 11 I wouldn’t mind so much)

As for the asthetic changes, I’ll admit to having paid great attention but my impressions were slightly negative (perhaps I’m a fuddy-duddy and I just don’t like change). Anyway, having read your positive comments I’ll pay more attention.

Bring back Compass! One hour, Island content, which includes a “national update”. Nothing else, Mr. Rabinovitch, will bring back the Island viewers you slighted. My loyalties for information are switching rapidly to the net and it didn’t have to happen.

Kevin O'Brien's picture
Kevin O'Brien on January 15, 2006 - 02:22 Permalink

Uh, that should read, “admit to NOT having paid great attention…”

Ann's picture
Ann on January 16, 2006 - 15:26 Permalink

When does it stop being all about design and start being about content?
I find the new design distracting — especially in light of the fact that content is really suffering on the CBC. Look how many feature and lifestyle stories there are — even on the news — as conpared to hard news and analysis.

If I want to watch a news program where I think I will actually learn someting, I watch The News Hour on PBS. There is almost no design on that show at all. It is sober and informative.

I am also concerned about the tendency to make our TV screens so busy. It started with 9/11 — when there really was a lot of news to report and it couldn’t all be done with just a talking head. But now that crawl at the bottom of the screen, which was so useful in a real emergency, is now filled with information about Lindsay Lohan’s eating disorder. I do not “need to know” this.

I know this makes me sound old — and maybe I am. But one thing I was told again and again when I worked at CBC is that you should not distract viewers from what you are telling them. Why is it suddenly okay nnow?

Peter Rukavina's picture
Peter Rukavina on January 16, 2006 - 16:36 Permalink

I would suggest that, if anything, the new “look and feel” gets itself out of the way quickly, and *does* leave room for the content. Watch the introduction to “The National” — that whole “from the National Broadcasting Centre, here… is Peter Mansbridge” trumpeting is gone. And the time from start-to-Bruce on Compass is greatly reduced as well.

Although I continue to hate the crawl at the bottom of Newsworld, even *it* has become more subtle and less distracting.

Leo's picture
Leo on January 16, 2006 - 21:56 Permalink

Anyway, it seems quite apparent that we shoudl enjoy the CBC now as all indicatiuons are that the next federal government under Harper would reduce funding to the CBC to only “the unique functions” it has — what this means is that we should expect further cuts to CBC programs and services under a new Conservative government. Maybe that is why Harper is the only party leader who has REFUSED to take part in the hour long meet the leader episodes on CBC’s the National. Could be that one way of paying for his not fully costed out platform is to slash things like the CBC, and a few other things important to PEI like Northumberland Ferries, social programs, etc.
However having said that I have been disappointed in local CBC election programming -they did not even have on air radio or TV debates for each riding on PEI as they have in elections past. The Nationally televised debate did not have questions regarding our foreign policy, environment, arts and culture, and even some economic and social issues important to all of us -

Danielle's picture
Danielle on January 16, 2006 - 22:46 Permalink

Admittedly, I haven’t seen the new start to the news, but I did want to say that I, too, miss the old Compass…the same way I see the Bridge as usurping one more facet of PEI’s unique character (I’d gladly go back to the ferry!). There is so much redundancy in news broadcasting in general, it’s insulting to the viewers, not to mention boring! Also, I have to say that a lack of funding to the CBC is not exactly the worst thing that could happen; I’ve seen and heard some pretty lame, useless, and sometimes downright weird and/or offensive content on the CBC, all supported in part by *my* tax dollars. Finally, in response to the last post, there is so much fear-mongering regarding the Conservatives and their ‘agenda’; people need to just stop and think, and not allow the Liberals to ERASE from the collective memory how much money this party has squandered while in office, how many lies have been told and how many scandals have been brought to light…how people can be so ‘swayed by the spin’ and continue to cling to corruption is beyond me. Read Peter’s blog if you want to know what’s happening on PEI ;-)

Marsha Littleton's picture
Marsha Littleton on January 18, 2006 - 00:38 Permalink

I agree that the new integrated format is nice. One thing about CBC is that they’ve certainly learned about branding in recent years, particularly compared to other public broadcasters like BBC, ABC and PBS.

I don’t agree at all that we need to return to a 1 hour PEI newscast though. Our province’s news is very limited and can be more than adequately handled by the reporting staff they have now. Let’s face it, if Cape Breton Island, which has the same population as we do +15,000 can get by with a few TV reporters and a small radio studio, we know that CBC PEI is a bit of an anomaly.

What I’d like to see instead of the current 30-30 format is a faster-paced 20-25 minute slot for top PEI stories without commercials, then a 10-15 slot for top regional/Maritime/Atlantic stories which is hosted by a host rotated through Ch’town, Hfx, Fredericton, St. John’s — again without commercials, then the remainder of the hour with national/international stories by Ian H., again without commercials. They could have 1-2 minute updates for weather after each major segment by the local station forecasters….

It seems that if you strip out the commercial segments and compress the current newscasts (which have a lot of filler, I find), then this would work. Forget the documentary-style filler stories that drag on and on and on and on for 5 minutes or more — just give us the news, straight up ala PBS, and hard-hitting with just the facts, no smarmy interpretation and conjecture like that Neil Macdonald guy gives is needed (it’s almost like he’s trying to compensate for the crap fed from the other side of the ideological divide over on Global or FoxNews) as we’re all intelligent viewers.

I think CBC would have a winning formula.