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August 25, 2019 7:43 pm  #1


CityNews’ Anchorless Cast Has A Meltdown

CityNews has long been boasting about its unique anchorless news format, which goes from reporter to reporter without anyone coming on in between, allowing stories to air without a de facto anchor.
 
It’s not my favourite idea, but it definitely is different. Still, I always wondered what would happen if there was a problem and things didn’t go as planned in the carefully arranged line-up. On Sunday, I got my answer.
 
The 6 PM show started with reporter Faiza Amin live on location near a controversial anti-immigration billboard. She did the intro, threw to the story and waited. It came on with no sound for what seemed like an hour, but actually was about 20 seconds. Anyone who’s worked in broadcasting knows how long that can feel when there’s a technical snafu.
 
They came back to Amin – whose story had essentially not aired – and although I sensed that she had more stories to read, she threw back to the newsroom, promising “more later.”
 
Apparently with nowhere else to go, the director took a shot of the newsroom position where Pam Seatle should have been. But she wasn’t in position and instead could be seen in the distant background sitting at a computer (below.) When she discovered she was up, she bounded out of her chair and rushed out of frame, her shoes making a loud clicking noise in an otherwise silent studio as she tried to get where she needed to be. She appeared to put on the wireless mic she really should have already been wearing and grabbed the script she didn’t have in front of her.
 
Meanwhile, the harried director took the viz of a shooting scene with no sound as Pam struggled to get ready. After another 20 seconds of silent video, in which you can hear the mic being pinned on, Seatle finally began reading the copy.
 
She then got through a second voice-over story O.K., before the video separator took viewers to another live eye, this time at a local park where some dog poisonings were suspected. The reporter, Erica Natividad, also had mic issues, as she silently mouthed her intro. So they started playing the story, with her still speaking on camera.

Finally, they got the tape sound issue straightened out, but now you heard Natividad read the tail end of her intro while also airing her pre-recorded voiceover that began her story. So she was effectively talking over herself.

By the time they got it all straightened out, three precious minutes had gone by, and the show looked and sounded like a disaster.
 
I was going to go over to CFTO, but frankly it was like one of those spectacular car crashes on the highway, where automobiles explode into a ball of flame. You know you shouldn't stare, but you just can't look away.  
 
I bring all this up not to make fun of them (I’ve been there, done that – when something goes wrong right off the top of a show, it can be like dominos of disaster falling, and it’s almost impossible to recover.)
 
We were always told that if something went wrong, immediately throw back to the anchor, who would pick up the pieces and keep going. In this case, there was no anchor to go back to and they were hoist by their own petard
 
When they got rid of Gord Martineau, presumably to save on his salary, they let go of a real pro. And though he wouldn’t likely have been working on a Sunday, it shows the danger of such a freeform news format. With no one to go back to, there’s no place to hide. And in this case, that wasn’t a good destination.

https://i.ibb.co/hZ29gLS/SAM-03011.jpg

https://i.ibb.co/dpVGVjw/SAM-03022.jpg

 

August 25, 2019 9:29 pm  #2


Re: CityNews’ Anchorless Cast Has A Meltdown

Poor Pam. December is her 30th year with City TV.

I missed this but have witnessed 2 other oopsies in the last 3 weeks. One at the 6:00pm start, Pam was put on air even before the shows standard intro. Sitting on a stool chair - unaware she was on - perhaps 3-4 seconds.
The other was a production foul-up. Pam in studio presenting a news story to camera when suddenly the expression on her face heightens, stops speaking, turns her head 90 degrees (looking to someone off camera) where I presume received direction to drop the whole thing because that's what happened.

It's summer, prime vacation time. The floor director and techs are probably young'ens.

 

August 25, 2019 10:37 pm  #3


Re: CityNews’ Anchorless Cast Has A Meltdown

67GreenRambler wrote:

Poor Pam. December is her 30th year with City TV.

And it almost wasn't. A few years ago, in one of Rogers' seemingly endless cost cutting purges, Pam was let go. But when management realized they'd fired too many people to keep the place going, they hired her back. She's been there ever since. So 30 years - with a couple of weeks off in between. 

     Thread Starter
 

August 25, 2019 10:49 pm  #4


Re: CityNews’ Anchorless Cast Has A Meltdown

I received this email from a friend who used to work at CityPulse in the old days. He told me an interesting story of a day when the show he was working on immediately went into the dumper. But it had a very different outcome than what happened on Sunday.
 
"The show went bad right away, as soon as we came on the air. Mic issues, a camera stopped working, tapes didn’t fire, mis-switches by a rattled technical director etc. These kinds of things rattle the people in the control room, who are already under pressure to get the show working smoothly and as noted, it cascades and just gets worse.
 
Just when it looked like that was our fate, the director finally went to black for a few seconds, as the producer, the late great Clint Nickerson, was trying to salvage things. I’ll never forget what he did next. As we sat in black for what seemed like an eternity, he pointed at everyone in the control room.
 
He told us what we were going to do when we came back up and took an extra few seconds to point at everyone in the control room at every post. “Are you OK?” he asked the T.D., the director, the P.A. and the graphics guy.
 
We all said yes. And that extra beat – maybe another 5 seconds of dead air - meant everything. He calmed the room down, he regained control, we came back up on camera, where Mark Dailey apologized for the technical difficulties and the show went on without a hitch.
 
Those extra 5 seconds of black were awful but they were worth it. It got everybody back in the groove, unrattled us, and we went back to work as if nothing had happened. And that’s what made him a great producer. 

I still miss the guy. "

     Thread Starter
 

August 25, 2019 11:39 pm  #5


Re: CityNews’ Anchorless Cast Has A Meltdown

RA,
I can attest to that type of attitude from Clint in the control room, as many of us who passed through those hallowed doors at either 99 Queen East or 299 Queen West.   It was always a pressure cooker,  but as Clint always said "the closer to deadline, the shorter the fuse" and yes it was like "dominos", if a tape failed to make it for it's slot, you could juggle and make it, but sometimes it crashed and burned.  And really no amount of yelling and screaming could fix it.  As we used to say "It's gone to Mars".
More later, stay tuned.