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Peter Mansbridge Is Retiring, So Why the Fuss?

Peter Mansbridge says he will step down from his position as chief correspondent of CBC News after 28 years.

The 68-year-old news anchor announced his retirement during Monday’s “The National” newscast, saying his final broadcast will air Canada Day, on the country’s 150th birthday…

It isn’t clear that “stepping down from the National” means retiring from the CBC. He may find a continuing role, as Lloyd Robertson has done at CTV or he may actually retire, perhaps, to write a memoir.

His ‘retirement’ raises a question about news broadcasting; do any of us find our news from one source, on a nightly newscast from one man?

The question was first asked when Walter Cronkite retired from CBS, though he was replaced by other individuals as the network tried to keep the idea of a ‘fatherly figure’ alive.  In this case, Peter may be the last of the father figures to host the National. He may be replaced by several people, rather than one person in the anchor chair.

Of course, Peter was always doing two things; he was delivering a nightly vision of Canada and the world to viewers but he was ‘selling’ the integrity of CBC news too, which may be far more difficult to do with new people taking turns in his chair.

Most of us, I suspect, have acquired the habit of searching online for news mixed with opinion, based on a belief that news broadcasters are biased and balancing bias is important for gleaning a clear understanding of events, or perhaps, we don’t trust any one person to tell us what happened anymore.

Perhaps it’s a measure of our cynicism as much as it is a function of new technology.  I have about 120 bookmarks from which I can find a wide range of ‘interpretation’ and, as a story develops, I can find revisions rather than wait for Peter’s broadcast.  The National may be the last newscast that people gathered around the television to watch because, as we know, viewers gather their news on their computers and cellphones.  It seems to me that sports may be the last vestige of this activity as people gather to watch the Blue Jays or the Maple Leafs.

The television may not be the centre of attention these days which may frustrate advertisers anxious to spread their messages to a jaded audience.  We can block the ads on computers or record a television programme on a PVR and skip the commercials during the replay.

Like it or not, The National will never again have the cache that it had under the tutelage of Peter Mansbridge and a long list of cadres, before him, who carried the CBC banner to remote parts of the country.  Those days are gone.

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Professional. Retired. Canadian.

2 replies

  1. Hi,

    Oh good, he’s going. I hadn’t heard about it until I read your blog. Maybe he has a new job staked out with the organization that is investigating, at our expense, an already RCMP led investigation and summary, into the missing and murdered aboriginal women scene. He seemed to take that issue on like a personal quest for justice every night on the news for months, all the while, ignoring the fact that it had already been investigated to death by the RCMP, and guess what, the fault actually lay at the doorstep of the aboriginal men in their community. Good luck with that Peter.

    Oh, and the hubris of retiring on Canada’s 150th birthday! Nice. He is probably thinking of hosting the entire event from Ottawa himself, all paid for by the CBC (us), at the Chateau Laurier in the heart of the nation’s capital. Nice. I can’t think of anything nicer than paying for his retirement party here.

    Thanks for the good/bad news Geof.

    Hugs, Dawn:)



    1. Hi Dawn
      Funny you should mention the Laurier Hotel. Vera and I have been talking up the idea of booking a long weekend there to see the 150th birthday celebrations in Ottawa. We’d have to book now, I should think, but Vera doesn’t seem keen. I suppose, like you, she isn’t one of Peter’s ardent fans. 🙂


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