Another Glitch

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Here & Now besieged by technical errors


The technical glitches continue at CBC Here & Now… and the anchors are starting to show their frustration.

Last night, there was another SNAFU at the end of the newscast, when Debbie Cooper cut to Jane Adey, host of CBC Late Night, for a preview of that night’s program.

Only problem is, there was no audio. We couldn’t hear a word Jane was saying. There was a full 12 seconds of talking, with no sound.

At the same time, someone must have referenced the problem in Debbie’s earbud. However, she must have misunderstood what was said, because, when they cut back to Debbie, she fumbled the cue a little, saying “And thanks very much, uh, thanks to Jane… I’m just getting a comment from the control room about my microphone… so hopefully you can hear me.”

They said goodnight, and the closing theme began, but Debbie’s microphone was still on. She looked at Jonathan and said, “Because he said that -”

The audio cut at that point, but you could see Debbie talking to Jonathan, and then Ryan Snoddon, about the glitch. You can watch yourself by going to the CBC NL site, clicking on today’s newscast, then dragging the playhead to the end of the program. But you’d better hurry – it will be replaced by tonight’s newscast, which starts at 6:00 pm.

I recount this small event in excruciating detail, but it is not meant to embarrass any of the anchors. They, in fact, are the victims of these foul-ups. They are the ones left exposed when the audio drops from a live feed, the teleprompter goes blank, the item they introduce is not ready for air, and so on.

Sometimes, the anchor will trip on a word or reporters will fumble during a live standup. However, this is happening less often.

Sometimes, everyone is at fault. On July 23, an announcer actually said a couple of foul words on the air, while reading the birthdays and anniversaries. Turns out, this segment is pre-recorded and the technician used the wrong take in the final edit. I say both are at fault because one should never swear while sitting at the anchor desk – especially not in a gaffe-prone environment like this.

That said, the problems lately are mainly technical, and seem to originate in the control room.

The quality of the program is otherwise quite good. But these technical matters have to be resolved before Here & Now can take its rightful place as one of the best regional newscasts in the country.

Whatever they’ve been doing up to now, to correct the problems, has not been working. Perhaps it is time for some heads to roll.



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Recent comments

  • Polly Pickford
    September 04, 2010 - 11:12

    I am glad I read this article because I thought I was hearing things . That certain anchor should have known better . Things are not always as they appear at Here and Now ....

  • Patton MacDonald
    August 20, 2010 - 07:48

    Yesterday, I was in Fredericton NB and drove by the CBC building. I was surprised to see that St. Thomas School of Journalism now shares that building. I read your post later in the day and wondered if CBC is using interns for the off camera, production related jobs, as they do from time to time in other provinces, and have been in NB. I wondered if the cause is some junior people stepping into production roles for which they have been less than adequately trained, or supervised. Could budget cuts also be showing here? Lack of skilled and experienced people to do the key jobs? Whatever the reason behind the glitches, the solutions are probably simple. It is the producer's job to catch and quickly resolve glitches such as you discussed. It is also the talking heads' jobs to ensure they act well under pressure, no matter how frequently these glitches occur. Sort of like the Madagascar Penguins approach (...just smile and wave, boys...). So, they need to find out what is causing the SNAFU as you described it, and fix it. They also should do a quick inservice on what to do when the stuff doesn't work properly and you are supposed to provide a sensible public face. It doesn't hurt to just smile and show that it's live tv once in a while either. After all, isn't that what media expects from the public figures they question, most particularly politicians? I shudder to think it would take staff changes to handle such a seemingly simple challenge, but if that's the case, do it and move along. Back to the CBC NB's connection to STU Journalism, good for CBC. They could use the type of challenges you are discussing as a "how to not act stupidly in a crisis" lesson. J School 101, perhaps. Lastly, I have been trying to find a way to use SNAFU in a written piece for years. Well done.