Earlier this week, CBC announced Peter Mansbridge’s replacement as host of the flagship show The National. In an attempt to offer Canadians “a new kind of evening news”, the national broadcaster decided to hire four people to take turns hosting The National. The new hosts are: senior correspondent Adrienne Arsenault, political reporter Rosemary Barton, CBC Vancouver host Andrew Chang, and CBC News host and reporter Ian Hanomansing.
“Each of these award-winning journalists bring distinct strengths and expertise to the program,” said Jennifer McGuire, General Manager and Editor-in-Chief of CBC News, in a statement. “They will report as an integrated team, across broadcast and digital, to deliver depth and context on the stories that matter to Canadians.”
This is an interesting decision on CBC’s part — to replace one national icon with four others in an effort to make The National more relevant to local communities (although the North and Maritimes are missing). There will be offices based in Vancouver, Ottawa, and Toronto, with the hosts split up between them. While this is a unique approach to national journalism, it does seem a bit of an oxymoron. It also begs the question: do we need four people to replace Mansbridge? Sure, he was a good anchor, but is he ‘we-can’t-replace-him-with-a-single-person’ great? I would argue no.
There is no doubt these four journalists are qualified for the job. I’ve been a fan of both Aresenault and Barton for a long time. Aresenault is an award-winning journalist known for her investigative stories. She has covered everything from natural disasters, conflicts, politics, sports, and human-interest stories, including the terrorist attack in Brussels and Paris. Barton has a long history of political reporting covering federal campaigns. For the last few years she has served as host for the daily CBC show Power and Politics and has done an amazing job keeping political representatives to account.
Chang has served as host for a number of CBC’s shows, including the National, and was a key member of the Olympic broadcast in 2014 and 2016. He has worked for both CBC Montreal (covering the NDP’s rise to power) and CBC Vancouver. Hanomansing is probably the most recognizable as a veteran host and reporter. He has covered everything from earthquakes, riots, the Olympic Games, and McMurray’s wildfires. He is the current host of CBC News Now weeknights.
The CBC’s choices, while qualified, are causing a bit of an uproar. If the CBC was looking for diversity — they succeeded. But, as was mentioned in a number of satire pieces written about the announcement, to hire two women and two minorities to replace one white man may not have been the message they were going for.
I’m honestly not sure what to think about this announcement. I have followed the careers of each of these reporters, and I am confident they will do an amazing job as hosts of The National. I think Canadians are going to have to wait and see how this new setup works before commenting on whether or not the CBC has overreached by adding so many co-anchors. Who knows? It could revolutionize the way people look at national news!
Personally, I’m going to miss Rosemary Barton on Power and Politics and am a bit more concerned about who will replace her on the show than what happens to The National. But, that’s just me.
The new National will broadcast on Nov. 6.
What do you think of the new hosts? Let us know in the comments below!