No, it is not. It is information.
The departure of Peter Mansbridge next July gives the CBC an opportunity to clear up this confusion. It should remove television news from the world of show biz – from the need to please – to the world of public service where it belongs – the same world in which CBC radio news thrives.
The skills an anchor requires are those of an actor performing a text written by somebody else. But, let us face it, any good announcer can read the news.
Celebrity anchors have become incompatible with public broadcasting. It is an insult to a mature public to assume that an attractive face conditioned to look trustworthy is needed to “sell” the news.
Other networks are also having second thoughts on this subject. And no wonder. They have to pay extravagantly high salaries to keep their stars from wandering off and offering their services to the competition. And their celebrity status tends to give them inordinate influence over the men and women who actually have editorial responsibilities.
Not long ago, some ambiguities in the CBC’s guidelines led Peter Mansbridge to accept substantial fees for speaking, for example, to oil companies, until these ambiguities were cleared up. No doubt he also had to be told, from time to time, not to be too chummy with political leaders.
But Peter Mansbridge’s overall competence has never been in doubt and, quite rightly, thousands of people will miss him.
But it is time for the CBC to turn the page.