CBC News set for massive relaunch Monday

CBC put on quite a show today for media and special guests in preparation for Monday, Oct. 26’s complete relaunch of CBC News.

As we walked through the doors on the 10th floor of CBC headquarters in Toronto, dance music pumped out into the hallways, slick red lighting cast a glow and my colleague commented that this press conference felt much like walking into the gala at Fashion Week in Toronto.

Peter Mansbridge hosted and all the familiar CBC News faces were in attendance either live or via satellite. London correspondent Adrienne Arsenault, The National contributor Wendy Mesley, former BNN host Amanda Lang and Dragon’s Den star Kevin O’Leary chatted up the crowd from the stage and others including Mark Kelley, Heather Hiscox, Ian Hanomansing and Evan Solomon showed off new sets and talked about new programming via satellite from around the building and the country.

Richard Stursberg, executive vice-president of English services, called the renewal “the most sweeping in the history of the CBC.”

The focus of the changes, dubbed the “renewal,” seems to be creating “an integrated approach to news.” There was a lot of talk of giving the news audience what they want, when they want and in the manner they want it — news 24/7 on a variety of platforms. This will, they said, take the form of mobile versions, downloadable version of programs and new and improved websites. In addition, many of the CBC representatives talked about transparency and showing why and how decisions are made (“demystifying the news process”).

Many of the role changes and additions to the team have been previously announced, but the effects of all the changes will begin to be seen on Monday. Only time will tell how significant these efforts are and how successful they will be.

This all begins, of course, with a new look, sound and feel (new logos, sets, sounds, etc.). In addition, there are some big shifts in responsibilities for many journalists and some new shows being launched.

Here’s a rundown of some of the changes that will set in motion on Monday:

Changes to The National:

  • will run seven days a week
  • new feature (several days a week) with Wendy Mesley to seek “answers to the provocative question of the day.”
  • new program website
  • on-demand mobile versions (will be customizable and available in different languages)
  • there will be 14 National correspondents: Adrienne Arsenault (Longon), Neil MacDonald (Washington), Nahlah Ayed (Montreal), Terry Milewski (Ottawa), Wendy Mesley, Amanda Lang (Business), Gillian Findlay (Investigative), Rex Murphy, Susan Ormiston (Toronto), Mellissa Fung (Toronto), Reg Sherrin (Winnipeg), Kim Brunhuber (Calgary), Duncan McCue (Vancouver), Krista Erickson (Consumer Affairs)

Changes to CBC Newsworld:

  • network name changed to CBC News Network
  • days will be known as CBC News Now
  • three new shows will launch:
  • The Lang & O’Leary Exchange – business program with analysis, debate and interviews
  • Power and Politics with Even Solomon – replacement for Don Newman’s program will cover politics, policy and people of power in Canada
  • Connect with Mark Kelley – (with Reshmi Nair, formerly of CTV in Toronto) – news talk show covering breaking events with a personal perspective

Changes to CBC Radio

  • will be hosted by former television foreign correspondent Peter Armstrong
  • additional national report added, for a total of four 10-minute live morning newscasts

Changes to CBC Local News:

  • evening local newscasts were expanded to 90 minutes at the end of the summer
  • CBC News Late Night – a 10-minute newscast will be added after The National in all regions

Changes to CBC website:

  • Kady O’Malley has left Maclean’s to join CBC as a political blogger that will be featured on a new political portal
  • Don Newman will also blog