These Trees. Or why TV and Radio are not the same.

On last night’s Compass there was a story, reported by Kerry Campbell, about a illegal tree cutting inside PEI National Park by Island Coastal Services.

As is increasingly the case at CBC Prince Edward Island, the audio from the story was re-purposed this morning to run as an item on the local news during Island Morning.

A small snippet of the story [MP3] illustrates a greater problem with this practice: when Kerry Campbell reports “these trees were cut to allow golfers a view of the water” it makes perfect sense when it’s on television because accompanying these words was video of the trees and the water in question.

But when the story aired on the radio the point was dulled because, well, we couldn’t see “these trees.”

While it may be appropriate in many situations for CBC Radio and CBC Television to share reporting — it doesn’t really make sense to send two reporters to tape the same speech, for example — if this “rip off Compass stories for the radio” trend spreads much further I think the CBC runs the risk of seriously degrading the quality and impact of local radio news.

Radio is not simply “television without pictures” (nor is TV simply “radio with pictures”) and good radio reporting demands a very different vantage point and expository style than television reporting.

I imagine the rationale behind this sort of re-purposing reflects a combination of fiscal issues and the CBC’s broader drive towards “synergizing the platforms.” While the old school, territorial “radio is radio and TV is TV and never the twain shall meet” world obviously had its own drawbacks, I think it’s important for we listeners to state clearly that local radio news is important, that it’s simply not good enough to re-run Compass on the radio in the morning, and to advocate for more resources for local radio news to make this happen.


island_journalist's picture
island_journalist on April 25, 2007 - 15:53 Permalink

Hear, hear!

I completely agree with what you are saying. And when you add to that the fact that the Guardian often covers what was on Compass — but two to three days later and with no more additional information — you have a pretty dire situation for local news. There’s a lot that doesn’t get covered, especially when the daily newspaper of record writes about 65 per cent of its stuff from press releases — or worse — just runs the press release as is. I believe the only reason it has the 87 per cent readership it is crowing about is because there is no other choice. Maybe it’s time for a new, independent City newspaper?