Both CBC and CTV failed to cover the Quebec mosque shooting. They forgot that when there is real breaking news you climb a tree

As a retired producer who worked at the national level at both CBC News and CTV News I was appalled at the superficial (to say the very least) coverage in English Canada of the shooting at a Quebec City mosque last night , January 29, 2017.

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今天 11:52 2022/01/19 11:52 动画 风车字幕组 [风车字幕組十一周年][名偵探柯南][1034][太閤名人的將棋盤(妙手篇)][1080P][繁體][MP4]     339.2MB 0 3 0 工藤新一
今天 11:50 2022/01/19 11:50 动画 风车字幕组 摆风车字幕组十一周年闭摆名侦探柯南闭摆1034闭摆太阁名人的将棋盘(妙手篇)闭摆1080笔闭摆简体闭摆惭笔4闭     339.3MB 0 3 0 工藤新一
今天 11:10 2022/01/19 11:10 动画 滨贰罢字幕组 [酷漫404][鬼滅之刃 遊郭篇][07][1080P][WebRip][繁日對白字幕+特效註解字幕][HEVC-10bit AAC][MKV][字幕組招人內詳]     545.6MB 7 9 9 coolcomic404
今天 11:10 2022/01/19 11:10 动画 滨贰罢字幕组 [酷漫404][鬼灭之刃 游郭篇][07][1080P][WebRip][简日对白字幕+特效注解字幕][HEVC-10bit AAC][MKV][字幕组招人内详]     545.6MB 6 0 8 coolcomic404
今天 11:00 2022/01/19 11:00 其他 萝莉社活动室 摆兽耳娘噠萌进化闭摆第237期闭摆500笔闭触ω?缚)     2.2GB 1 7 0 恋之星第六季
今天 11:00 2022/01/19 11:00 动画 NC-Raws [NC-Raws] 叫我對大哥 (WEB版) / Ore, Tsushima - 74 [Baha][WEB-DL][1080p][AVC AAC][CHT][MP4] 约1条评论     9MB 6 1 18 九十九朔夜
今天 10:47 2022/01/19 10:47 動漫音乐 天使动漫论坛 [Hi-Res][220119]THE IDOLM@STER STARLIT SEASON 02[96kHz/24bit][FLAC]     886.7MB 14 2 27 天使动漫
今天 10:35 2022/01/19 10:35 动画 桜都字幕组 [桜都字幕组] 白金终局 / Platinum End [14][1080p][简繁内封] 约1条评论     599.8MB 21 15 45 sakurato
今天 10:32 2022/01/19 10:32 动画 桜都字幕组 [桜都字幕組] 白金終局 / Platinum End [14][1080p][繁體內嵌]     649.2MB 33 15 74 sakurato
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今天 09:20 2022/01/19 09:20 動漫音乐 天使动漫论坛 [220119][世界计划彩色舞台]『プロジェクトセカイ カラフルステージ! feat. 初音ミク』25時、ナイトコードで。2nd Single「限りなく灰色へ/アイディスマイル」/楠木ともり、田辺留依、鈴木みのり、佐藤日向[FLAC]     60.4MB 16 0 29 天使动漫
今天 09:16 2022/01/19 09:16 动画 诸神办补尘颈驳补尘颈字幕组 [诸神字幕组][通灵王][SHAMAN KING 2021][38][简日双语字幕][720P][CHS MP4]     154.9MB 20 9 51 kamigamifb
今天 09:16 2022/01/19 09:16 动画 诸神办补尘颈驳补尘颈字幕组 [诸神字幕组][通灵王][SHAMAN KING 2021][38][简繁日语字幕][1080P][HEVC MKV]     225.8MB 26 13 102 kamigamifb
今天 08:53 2022/01/19 08:53 動漫音乐 [2022.01.19] THE IDOLM@STER SHINY COLORS OFF VOCAL COLLECTION 01 [FLAC 96kHz/24bit]     3.7GB 8 10 27 Mashin
今天 08:10 2022/01/19 08:10 动画 Lilith-Raws [Lilith-Raws] 自稱賢者弟子的賢者 / Kenja no Deshi wo Nanoru Kenja - 02 [Baha][WEB-DL][1080p][AVC AAC][CHT][MP4]     429.7MB 88 10 435 lilithraws
今天 08:10 2022/01/19 08:10 动画 Lilith-Raws [Lilith-Raws] 與變成了異世界美少女的大叔一起冒險 / Fantasy Bishoujo Juniku Ojisan to - 02 [Baha][WEB-DL][1080p][AVC AAC][CHT][MP4]     544.5MB 77 14 378 lilithraws
今天 08:09 2022/01/19 08:09 动画 Lilith-Raws [Lilith-Raws] 天才王子的赤字國家重生術 / Tensai Ouji no Akaji Kokka Saisei Jutsu - 02 [Baha][WEB-DL][1080p][AVC AAC][CHT][MP4]     342.9MB 130 12 699 lilithraws
今天 06:34 2022/01/19 06:34 动画 千夏字幕组 【千夏字幕组】【女孩的釣魚慢活_Slow Loop】[第02话][MP4][720p][繁体]     153.8MB 7 0 34 千夏字幕组
今天 06:34 2022/01/19 06:34 动画 千夏字幕组 【千夏字幕组】【女孩的钓鱼慢活_Slow Loop】[第02话][MP4][720p][简体]     153.9MB 3 0 16 千夏字幕组
今天 06:34 2022/01/19 06:34 动画 千夏字幕组 【千夏字幕组】【女孩的釣魚慢活_Slow Loop】[第02话][MP4][1080p][繁体]     299.7MB 9 0 44 千夏字幕组
今天 06:34 2022/01/19 06:34 动画 千夏字幕组 【千夏字幕组】【女孩的钓鱼慢活_Slow Loop】[第02话][MP4][1080p][简体]     299.5MB 3 0 15 千夏字幕组
今天 06:34 2022/01/19 06:34 动画 千夏字幕组 【千夏字幕组】【女孩的钓鱼慢活_Slow Loop】[第02话][MKV][1080p][繁简内封] 约1条评论     469.5MB 8 0 39 千夏字幕组
今天 04:43 2022/01/19 04:43 动画 天月动漫&发佈组 [Skymoon-Raws] 與變成了異世界美少女的大叔一起冒險 / Fantasy Bishoujo Juniku Ojisan to - 02 [ViuTV][WEB-DL][1080p][AVC AAC][繁體外掛][MP4+ASSx2](正式版本) 约1条评论     437.1MB 14 4 125 Laputa
今天 04:41 2022/01/19 04:41 动画 天月动漫&发佈组 [Skymoon-Raws] 與變成了異世界美少女的大叔一起冒險 / Fantasy Bishoujo Juniku Ojisan to - 02 [ViuTV][WEB-RIP][1080p][AVC AAC][CHT][SRTx2][MKV](先行版本)     421.9MB 9 0 46 Laputa
今天 03:52 2022/01/19 03:52 动画 天月动漫&发佈组 [Skymoon-Raws] 天才王子的赤字國家重生術 / Tensai Ouji no Akaji Kokka Saisei Jutsu - 02 [ViuTV][WEB-DL][1080p][AVC AAC][繁體外掛][MP4+ASSx2](正式版本) 约1条评论     305.7MB 17 6 148 Laputa
今天 03:50 2022/01/19 03:50 动画 天月动漫&发佈组 [Skymoon-Raws] 天才王子的赤字國家重生術 / Tensai Ouji no Akaji Kokka Saisei Jutsu - 02 [ViuTV][WEB-RIP][1080p][AVC AAC][CHT][SRTx2][MKV](先行版本)     290.5MB 11 1 65 Laputa
今天 02:18 2022/01/19 02:18 動漫音乐 [2022.01.19] THE IDOLM@STER STARLIT SEASON 02 [FLAC 96kHz/24bit]     815.8MB 7 1 50 Mashin
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今天 01:37 2022/01/19 01:37 動漫音乐 [2022.01.19] TVアニメ「時光代理人 -LINK CLICK-」OPテーマ「Dive Back In Time」/bicaso feat.Gen Kakon [MP3 320K]     7.3MB 13 2 128 Mashin
今天 01:37 2022/01/19 01:37 動漫音乐 [2022.01.19] TVアニメ「時光代理人 -LINK CLICK-」OPテーマ「Dive Back In Time」/bicaso feat.Gen Kakon [FLAC 48kHz/24bit]     37.1MB 7 0 63 Mashin
今天 00:46 2022/01/19 00:46 动画 极影字幕社 【极影字幕社】 ★1月新番 慢钓生活/女孩的钓鱼慢活/スローループ/SLOW LOOP 第02話 BIG5 1080P HEVC MP4(字幕社招人內詳)     217.5MB 12 0 77 Lus
今天 00:46 2022/01/19 00:46 动画 极影字幕社 【极影字幕社】 ★1月新番 慢钓生活/女孩的钓鱼慢活/スローループ/SLOW LOOP 第02话 GB 1080P HEVC MP4(字幕社招人內详)     217.4MB 1 0 28 Lus
今天 00:40 2022/01/19 00:40 动画 悠哈颁9字幕社 【悠哈璃羽字幕社】[更衣人偶墜入愛河 / 戀上換裝娃娃 / Sono Bisque Doll wa Koi wo Suru][02][x264 1080p][CHT]     305.9MB 8 0 91 悠哈颁9字幕社
今天 00:40 2022/01/19 00:40 动画 悠哈颁9字幕社 【悠哈璃羽字幕社】[更衣人偶坠入爱河 / 恋上换装娃娃 / Sono Bisque Doll wa Koi wo Suru][02][x264 1080p][CHS]     305.9MB 9 2 64 悠哈颁9字幕社
今天 00:00 2022/01/19 00:00 動漫音乐 [2022.01.19] KOTOKO 23rdシングル「Fastest!」[MP3 320K]     39.7MB 14 2 175 Mashin
今天 00:00 2022/01/19 00:00 动画 桜都字幕组 [桜都字幕組] 進擊的巨人 The Final Season Part 2 / Shingeki no Kyojin The Final Season Part 2 [77][1080p][繁日內嵌]     751.6MB 18 12 98 sakurato
今天 00:00 2022/01/19 00:00 動漫音乐 [2022.01.19] KOTOKO 23rdシングル「Fastest!」[FLAC]     129.4MB 10 1 100 Mashin
昨天 23:54 2022/01/18 23:54 动画 桜都字幕组 [桜都字幕组] 进击的巨人 The Final Season Part 2 / Shingeki no Kyojin The Final Season Part 2 [77][1080p][简繁日内封] 约1条评论     536MB 11 4 85 sakurato
昨天 23:43 2022/01/18 23:43 动画 桜都字幕组 [桜都字幕组] 进击的巨人 The Final Season Part 2 / Shingeki no Kyojin The Final Season Part 2 [77][1080p][简日内嵌]     751.5MB 8 4 61 sakurato
昨天 23:41 2022/01/18 23:41 動漫音乐 [2022.01.19] TVアニメ「無職転生 ~異世界行ったら本気だす~」オリジナルサウンドトラック2 [MP3 320K]     191.7MB 19 3 204 Mashin
昨天 23:41 2022/01/18 23:41 動漫音乐 [2022.01.19] TVアニメ「無職転生 ~異世界行ったら本気だす~」オリジナルサウンドトラック2 [FLAC 48kHz/24bit]     766.2MB 13 0 112 Mashin
昨天 23:33 2022/01/18 23:33 动画 NC-Raws [NC-Raws] 自称贤者弟子的贤者(泰配版) / Kenja no Deshi (Thai version) - 02 [B-Global][WEB-DL][1080p][AVC AAC][Multiple Subtitle][MKV]     1.0GB 3 0 14 九十九朔夜
昨天 23:33 2022/01/18 23:33 动画 NC-Raws [NC-Raws] 自称贤者弟子的贤者 / Kenja no Deshi wo Nanoru Kenja - 02 [B-Global][WEB-DL][1080p][AVC AAC][Multiple Subtitle][MKV]     1.0GB 8 2 40 九十九朔夜
昨天 23:31 2022/01/18 23:31 动画 NC-Raws [NC-Raws] 自稱賢者弟子的賢者 / Kenja no Deshi wo Nanoru Kenja - 02 [Baha][WEB-DL][1080p][AVC AAC][CHT][MP4] 约1条评论     429.9MB 84 15 1289 九十九朔夜
昨天 23:10 2022/01/18 23:10 特摄 [jibaketa合成&壓制][ViuTV粵語]幪面超人聖刃 / 假面騎士聖刃 / Kamen Rider Saber - 13 [粵日雙語+內封繁體中文字幕] (BD 1920x1080 x264 AACx2 PGS+SRT ViuTV CHT)     1.1GB 0 15 0 jibaketa
昨天 23:04 2022/01/18 23:04 动画 NC-Raws [NC-Raws] 与变成了异世界美少女的好友一起冒险 / Fantasy Bishoujo - 02 [B-Global][WEB-DL][1080p][AVC AAC][Multiple Subtitle][MKV]     1.0GB 9 1 98 九十九朔夜
昨天 23:02 2022/01/18 23:02 动画 NC-Raws [NC-Raws] 我的异界之旅 / My Journey in an Alternate World - 03 [B-Global][WEB-DL][1080p][AVC AAC][Multiple Subtitle][MKV]     462.3MB 7 1 68 九十九朔夜
昨天 23:01 2022/01/18 23:01 动画 NC-Raws [NC-Raws] 與變成了異世界美少女的大叔一起冒險 / Fantasy Bishoujo - 02 [Baha][WEB-DL][1080p][AVC AAC][CHT][MP4] 约1条评论     544.7MB 99 16 1613 九十九朔夜
昨天 23:01 2022/01/18 23:01 動漫音乐 [2022.01.19] プロジェクトセカイ カラフルステージ! feat.初音ミク 25時、ナイトコードで。 2ndシングル「限りなく灰色へ/アイディスマイル」[FLAC]     55.2MB 7 0 88 Mashin
昨天 22:33 2022/01/18 22:33 动画 NC-Raws [NC-Raws] 天才王子的赤字国家振兴术 / Tensai Ouji - 02 [B-Global][WEB-DL][1080p][AVC AAC][Multiple Subtitle][MKV]     1.0GB 8 1 68 九十九朔夜
昨天 22:32 2022/01/18 22:32 日剧 魔星字幕团 [MagicStar] Fight Song / ファイトソング EP02 [WEBDL] [1080p]【生】【附日字】     818.8MB 2 0 27 jackieliiy
昨天 22:31 2022/01/18 22:31 动画 NC-Raws [NC-Raws] 天才王子的赤字國家重生術 / Tensai Ouji - 02 [Baha][WEB-DL][1080p][AVC AAC][CHT][MP4] 约1条评论     343MB 78 1 1346 九十九朔夜
昨天 22:21 2022/01/18 22:21 动画 LoliHouse [悠哈璃羽字幕社&LoliHouse] 明日同学的水手服 / Akebi-chan no Sailor-fuku - 02 [WebRip 1080p HEVC-10bit AAC][简繁内封字幕] 约1条评论     747.8MB 25 4 221 LoliHouse
昨天 21:56 2022/01/18 21:56 动画 喵萌奶茶屋 【喵萌奶茶屋】★10月新番★[大正處女御伽話/Taishou Otome Otogibanashi][10][1080p][繁體][招募翻譯校對] 约1条评论     205.5MB 5 0 55 nekomoekissaten
昨天 21:56 2022/01/18 21:56 动画 喵萌奶茶屋 【喵萌奶茶屋】★10月新番★[大正处女御伽话/Taishou Otome Otogibanashi][10][1080p][简体][招募翻译校对]     205.5MB 4 3 35 nekomoekissaten
昨天 21:55 2022/01/18 21:55 动画 喵萌奶茶屋 【喵萌奶茶屋】★10月新番★[大正處女御伽話/Taishou Otome Otogibanashi][10][720p][繁體][招募翻譯校對] 约2条评论     134.3MB 8 0 95 nekomoekissaten
昨天 21:55 2022/01/18 21:55 动画 喵萌奶茶屋 【喵萌奶茶屋】★10月新番★[大正处女御伽话/Taishou Otome Otogibanashi][10][720p][简体][招募翻译校对]     134.3MB 5 4 49 nekomoekissaten
昨天 21:01 2022/01/18 21:01 动画 NC-Raws [NC-Raws] 不白吃话山海经 / Foodie Boy’s Classic of Mountains & Seas - 15 [B-Global][WEB-DL][1080p][AVC AAC][Multiple Subtitle][MKV]     191.5MB 2 0 12 九十九朔夜
昨天 20:56 2022/01/18 20:56 動漫音乐 [2022.01.19] THE IDOLM@STER STARLIT SEASON 02 [MP3 320K]     106.3MB 9 0 136 Mashin
昨天 20:48 2022/01/18 20:48 日剧 [转载]镰仓殿的13人 02.历史独角兽.双语字幕.1080P     972.9MB 7 1 115 冲、未来、
昨天 20:41 2022/01/18 20:41 動漫音乐 [2022.01.19] プロジェクトセカイ カラフルステージ! feat.初音ミク 25時、ナイトコードで。 2ndシングル「限りなく灰色へ/アイディスマイル」[MP3 320K]     37.2MB 17 0 171 Mashin
昨天 20:23 2022/01/18 20:23 動漫音乐 [2022.01.19] THE IDOLM@STER SHINY COLORS OFF VOCAL COLLECTION 01 [MP3 320K]     383.8MB 15 2 131 Mashin
昨天 20:20 2022/01/18 20:20 特摄 上海电影制片厂译制 Mighty Morphin Power Rangers 美版恐龙战队 超凡战队 金刚战士 250集 内地国语中字 国语单音轨 DVD原盘版 153.77GB(含in Space和95剧场版原盘) 约2条评论     153.8GB 0 5 0 keivn36
昨天 20:03 2022/01/18 20:03 动画 NC-Raws [NC-Raws] 凡人修仙传 / A Record Of Mortal's Journey To Immortality - 33 [B-Global][WEB-DL][1080p][AVC AAC][Multiple Subtitle][MKV]     807.4MB 8 1 95 九十九朔夜
昨天 19:43 2022/01/18 19:43 动画 Lilith-Raws [Lilith-Raws] 幻想三國誌 天元靈心記 / Gensou Sangokushi - Tengen Reishinki - 02 [Baha][WEB-DL][1080p][AVC AAC][CHT][MP4] 约1条评论     688.5MB 40 8 590 lilithraws
昨天 19:43 2022/01/18 19:43 动画 Lilith-Raws [Lilith-Raws] 食鏽末世錄 / Sabikui Bisco - 02 [Baha][WEB-DL][1080p][AVC AAC][CHT][MP4] 约1条评论     495.9MB 58 21 769 lilithraws
昨天 19:42 2022/01/18 19:42 动画 Lilith-Raws [Lilith-Raws] Tribe Nine - 02 [Baha][WEB-DL][1080p][AVC AAC][CHT][MP4]     314.9MB 38 6 590 lilithraws
昨天 19:28 2022/01/18 19:28 动画 悠哈颁9字幕社 【悠哈璃羽字幕社】 [宿命回响:命运节拍_ Takt Op. Destiny][11] [x264 1080p][CHT]     277.6MB 5 0 54 悠哈颁9字幕社
昨天 19:27 2022/01/18 19:27 动画 悠哈颁9字幕社 【悠哈璃羽字幕社】 [宿命回响:命运节拍_ Takt Op. Destiny][11] [x264 1080p][CHS]     277.6MB 4 2 25 悠哈颁9字幕社
昨天 19:00 2022/01/18 19:00 动画 极影字幕社 【极影字幕社】★ 東京24區 第02集 BIG5 AVC 720p MP4     226.1MB 19 2 249 火星笨蛋
昨天 18:59 2022/01/18 18:59 日剧 幻月字幕组 【幻月字幕组】【22年日剧】【和歌子酒 第六季】【02】【1080P】【中日双语】     519.6MB 7 0 163 幻月字幕组
昨天 18:36 2022/01/18 18:36 動漫音乐 天使动漫论坛 [220107][头文字D]SUPER EUROBEAT presents 頭文字[イニシャル]D THE BEST OF DREAM COLLECTION[320K]     500.9MB 17 0 271 天使动漫
昨天 18:34 2022/01/18 18:34 动画 悠哈颁9字幕社 【悠哈璃羽字幕社&西農YUI漢化組】[暗芝居 第十季_Yami Shibai 10][02][x264 1080p][CHT]     65MB 4 0 67 悠哈颁9字幕社
昨天 18:34 2022/01/18 18:34 动画 悠哈颁9字幕社 【悠哈璃羽字幕社&西农YUI汉化组】[暗芝居 第十季_Yami Shibai 10][02][x264 1080p][CHS] 约1条评论     65MB 4 2 68 悠哈颁9字幕社
昨天 17:16 2022/01/18 17:16 动画 悠哈颁9字幕社 【悠哈璃羽字幕社】 [宿命回响:命运节拍_ Takt Op. Destiny][10] [x264 1080p][CHT] 约1条评论     189.8MB 3 0 75 悠哈颁9字幕社
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So were many people. The news was coming in on Twitter and Facebook, not television and along with the real news (and the fake news) there were complaints that neither CBC nor CTV had any coverage. The viewers were demanding television coverage from both the public CBC and the private CTV.

While Societie Radio Canada and its French language private competition TVA were live and in-depth, the CBC National broadcast on both the main network and News Network  had nothing more than a minute of a phoner voice over. A disgrace for a national public news service.

At 11 pm, Pacific, that’s 2 am Eastern, CBC News Network went back to a canned documentary while BBC World devoted much of its newscast to the shooting.

This is the age of instant communications. Mobile phones. Text. E-mail. Twitter. Facebook.

It is obvious that in this age of 24/7/365 communications neither network news service has an emergency plan.

Probably in the view of bean counters and consultants news happens most often when there is a regular measurable audience and a newsroom is fully staffed (or as staffed as much as today’s budgets allow) and the new buzzwords like a “Hub” or a “Breaking News Desk” will always respond.

The Hub and Breaking News desks can only respond if there are warm bodies with their bums in chairs actually in the newsrooms.

Maybe the network news bosses should bring an old analog era procedure that actually got (real) breaking news on the air fast. It’s called a phone tree.

Back when I was starting in journalism 40 years ago, the days long before Breaking News became nothing more than a marketing gimmick, there were emergency plans and procedures and when the fertilizer hit the fan you learned quickly how those procedures worked. Even if you were a lowly editorial assistant (a job that no longer exists) almost all alone in the newsroom.

These long forgotten procedures were created (I was told at the time) when the Greatest Generation returned from service in the Second World War to begin or resume careers in journalism and they damn well knew what an emergency or breaking news really were.

So here’s how I learned my trade back then:

On September 28, 1978, it was just after one in the morning at the old National Radio Newsroom on Jarvis Street in Toronto. The evening staff had gone home. There was a writer for the hourlies for western Canada. The late Doug Payne producer of the World at Eight was preparing the show. His writing and producing staff would not be in for a couple of hours. I was the editorial assistant. It was still the days of clattering teletypes in a side room. Nothing had moved on any of the teletypes for an hour. Nothing. Then suddenly the Reuters machine literally went nuts. Normally five bells on an old teletype was a Bulletin. A Flash was seven. This time the machine rang 28 bells. (I saved the carbon copy and counted them later) The new Pope John Paul I was dead. (He had been in office just 33 days).

I was stunned for a few seconds, then ripped the paper and ran over to Doug.

Doug knew what to do. He knew the phone tree.

First I was to call the then senior assignment producer, Bob Dowling.
Second and only after I had called Dowling, who could start getting the foreign desk and reporters mobilized, I was to call the then managing editor Eric Moncur.

Doug and the writer under CBC procedure at the time (not these days) waited for the CP/AP confirmation. They then prepared the network bulletin and after that the last two hourlies to the west.

Doug told me that once I had called the boss, I was to call in all the morning staff for both World at Eight and Hourlies, starting with producers and senior technicians, then writers and junior technicians. Overtime was no problem. The early morning EA didn’t answer (I later learned he was spending the night at his girl friends’) so I was told to call in the mid-morning EA. Doug then told me to call Frans, the nearby all night restaurant and order breakfast to go for 30 people. As soon as the mid-morning EA got in, he was sent out again in a taxi, with an envelope full of cash to collect the breakfast. (Eggs, bacon and sausage).

I was also fielding calls from the public (including an assistant to the Archbishop) who had direct lines numbers to the newsroom in something called a Rolodex. (In the first round of many budget cuts the overnight switchboard operator had been let go a few weeks earlier)

In Toronto, noise bylaws forbade the Catholic Churches’ bells from ringing until 7 a.m. But as the World At Eight went to Atlantic Canada, the listeners could hear LIVE, those bells ringing.

A year later, on November 10, 1979, it was a deadly Saturday night. There were two people in the radio newsroom, myself and the hourly writer. Down the hall a producer for Sunday Morning was putting the last minute touches on a doc that was to air that morning.

It was five minutes to midnight. Five minutes until the switchboard closed. It was then the phones started to ring. There had been some kind of huge explosion in the west part of Toronto. At midnight those calls stopped.

Those calls were enough for me to follow the phone tree procedures and call Bob Dowling. It was soon after that that news staff began calling on direct lines, not just from the west end but even from high rises in downtown Toronto, telling me there were huge flames in the west.

A Canadian Pacific train had derailed in Mississauga at 11:53. So those warning phone calls from the public had come almost instantly. Dowling went through the phone tree, calling in staff and alerting reporters. Then he called back and ordered me, the most junior person and the available warm body to get out to the scene until a national reporter could relieve me. There was a problem, the weekend CBL (local Toronto radio) reporter had taken the staff car and he couldn’t be contacted. So  Dowling authorized a technician who should have gone off shift  to drive me on overtime  to the scene in his personal vehicle.

As soon as we got on the Gardiner, we could see the flames reaching 1500 feet into the air; we eventually got to the scene, and (in those days) were waved through the police barricade to a parking lot designated for the media. Even for the TV people who were also arriving this was long before the days of easy live coverage. But there was a quick police briefing within a half hour or so. Soon after the briefing, a national reporter arrived, so the tech and I drove off to find a place to file. In those days that involved taking a phone apart and using alligator clips to send audio from a tape recorder back to the newsroom. Then, the tech and I went to a mall that was an evacuation centre that was already filling up, for interviews. We were back in the newsroom by 5 am, which by that time had all hands on deck.

On August 19 1991, I was a writer at CTV News in this case the Sunday news with Sandie Rinaldo. It was a dull, routine Sunday night with (as far as I remember) until about 11:25 when once again it was Reuters, this time on a green CRT screen tied via some badly written software to a mainframe, that sent the Bulletin that the Communist Party of the Soviet Union had announced that Mikhail Gorbachev was no longer in office. It was the infamous August coup. I called the show producer Jennifer Harwood (now a CBC News manager) and read her the bulletin.

Normally on a Sunday night after the control room told us “tape is good” everyone would go home. The control room called, tape was good, but there was no call back from the producers saying they could go home. Everyone was reading the wires. Control room called back, “What is going on?” So I told them and told them to stand by. The coup meant that there had to be a whole new show with real breaking news put together in now less than half an hour.

At the same time, the CTV phone tree was activated. Calls were made to then CTV VP of News Tim Kotcheff and senior assignment editor Dennis McIntosh. The midnight show to Central Time Zone made it to air (of course) and then after that show was off the air; there was a full network special report aimed mostly at the eastern, Atlantic and Newfoundland stations that had already broadcast the original newscast.

That’s how the system was supposed to work. That’s how it worked at both public and private networks  when the networks had executives and managers who knew what they were doing.

My sources tell me that at CBC there is minimal staff assigned to the Sunday National (unlike the old days when the Sunday National was a flagship that led the rest of the week.) and even the English Montreal local CBC newscast was a disaster.

This news disaster is the result of decades of budget cuts, staff reductions and misleading viewer analytics that say it isn’t worth money investing in weekend coverage. At CTV I suspect that the parent company Bell Media has no real interest in actual news coverage in a demographic low point. CBC lost its way as a public broadcaster years ago, with too many managers and too many managers who know nothing about broadcasting and don’t consider news apart from marketing it.

The CBC now has version 5.0 or higher of a so-called digital strategy. The news of the shooting was on Facebook and Twitter, not much even on  CBC.ca (they can’t do much if there’s one writer and no reporters on scene to feed information) and everyone in English Canada was waiting for CBC to go live with real reporting. It never happened.

In these days when all the media is in deep trouble, there are some things you can’t fix.

But one thing can be fixed. Remember the Greatest Generation.

Remember the old Journalism School 101 adage. Never Assume.

Never assume that news is going to break when you’re expecting it.

Come up with a real 21st century emergency plan and bring back that old analog frigging phone tree system and when there is real breaking news get it on the air and out on digital and social media whether it’s on Wednesday afternoon or Sunday night. Accurate and fast. Accurate is crucial in the age of fake news on social media.

 


Here’s what John Doyle of the Globe and Mail says

John Doyle: Lack of TV news coverage of Quebec City shooting a huge broadcast failure

 

(In the first upload,  I mixed up east and west. Mississauga is west of Toronto. It has been corrected)