Originally posted on Circles Around the Square

The National is sometimes criticized for doing little or no arts and entertainment or sports news. This criticism doesn’t come from me, I like the National that way – 60 minutes of important national and international news largely without fluff. If you want sports news there are 24 hour networks devoted to just that. If you want arts and entertainment news there are several entire programs (on TV and radio) devoted to that. So, for a show that doesn’t really do arts and entertainment news, it was surprising to say the least to see a lengthy ‘story’ about Little Mosque on the Prairie.

This is, if you will, anti-buzz. It is one of the more cynical forms of advertising – advertising pretending to be news. Plays like this do not build buzz – quite the opposite, it is more like anti-buzz. The audience, or most of it, sees right through this and many, like myself, are insulted by it. It makes people less likely to talk about it to their friends (the kind of thing that builds legitimate buzz) because it makes them feel like they are only participating in a marketing ploy. I know that the CBC badly needs a prime time hit, but I had thought and hoped that the CBC was above something like this.

Running ads for your own programs (or for your advertisers products) in the middle of a newscast and pretending that the ‘buzz around Little Mosque on the Prairie’ is actually national news skirts the edges of journalistic credibility. It is plays like this that helped turn CNN from a fairly accurate and reliable news source into the sensationalized semi-tabloid that it is today. CBC has it’s ups and downs. It has successful and less successful programming. Curling, the Olympics and the CFL may come and go. But, beyond hockey, the one thing that virtually all Canadians (and many around the world) agree on is that CBC News is one of the last remaining reliable, credible, and journalistically ethical news sources remaining on television. That credibility should not, and must not be for sale; not even for the price of a prime time hit.

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