Monday, October 19, 2009

Canadian News versus American News

Recently, my wife and I went to a department back-to-school party in the states, and had a lovely time. It's always funny to me to listen to Americans meeting Claire because they tend to speak very highly of Canada, perhaps a bit more than is really necessary. I don't think they're being insincere, mind you; I just find that Americans, particularly liberals, tend to romanticize Canada a bit. In response, Canadians tend to complain about the weather in Canada, to knock themselves down a peg. It's very bizarre.

Anyway, they were telling her that they love to watch the Canadian news because they think it's much better than the American newscasts. "Oh, it's much more intelligent and informative!" they claimed. I have to take their word for it, since I don't really watch the CBC too often, and otherwise, we just get CNN and CNBC, which are pretty dire. Besides, the CBC is the state-funded newscast, which would seem to raise questions of its own. And, to give you some idea what an avid television watcher I'm not, I don't actually know what the other local stations are. So, mostly I took what they were saying with a large grain of salt.

The other day, thinking of what they'd said, I decided to do an experiment. I watched a half-hour of news on the CBC: they were discussing the serious military battles going on in Pakistan with a Pakistani diplomat, followed by a discussion of what the West should do in Afghanistan with a scholar on the region. I then turned to CNN and watched for about twenty minutes: they were talking about some little brat in a balloon. This had turned out to be a publicity stunt, that they had passed along uncritically, and they were now asking if the parents should be held accountable for something or other.

I think I sort of see what the people in my department were talking about.


The Pagan Temple said...

Even when the news channels here do talk about important stuff, it's the same people talking the same tired stale talking points, making the rounds from show to show, in some cases trying to outshout each other. You never really learn much of anything that you need to know that you already didn't know, or couldn't even just assume without the blather.

They need the Balloon Boys and the Natalie Holloways to boost their ratings up, because people have a sick hunger for that kind of stuff, which would be all right to cover to a limited extent, but they just do the crap to death.

Rufus said...

There's sort of a desperation to get advertisers, isn't there? Most of the time when I watch the US cable news (inevitably, if I'm in any sort of waiting room with a TV set, it's on CNN for some reason), I'm struck by how often they stop to voice the opinions of the business community, and then return to the debates over nothingness. Also, how rarely the US cable news acknowledges a world outside of the US or the countries in which the US is currently fighting.

I would recommend reading the newspapers online. They're generally free and some of them still include actual journalism.

Brian Dunbar said...

CNN used to be good. Or maybe we only had CNN and everybody else so they looked good by comparison.

Also, how rarely the US cable news acknowledges a world outside of the US or the countries in which the US is currently fighting.

Ignoring the talking head shows and sticking to the actual news, I have found that Fox News does a good job of reporting about events outside the US.

I relized this when I was channel hopping and stopped on a long-ish report on some sectarian doings in Jerusalem. It went on long enough and was in enough depth on a topic I'd never even heard of that I thought I was watching BBC until I noticed the logo.

Rufus said...

I think what happened with CNN was that they saw the other stations were pulling in viewers by having their anchors spout their idiotic opinions on everything they report, and they decided to follow suit. Frankly, I don't give a damn if Lou Dobbs thinks "Washington is falling apart"- I just want to hear what's going on in the world.

I know people have strong opinions about Fox News, but I don't because I've never actually watched it. We don't get it now because we have the cheapest cable package available, and I'm strongly considering dropping that, since I never watch television any more and the good shows are all online anyway.

Actually, in spite of their often strange editorial policies, I am generally impressed by the BBC. They tell you what's going on pretty much everywhere in the world and usually without any editorializing from the talking heads. (Not the band- I would support them editorializing on the news.)