So, I picked up a copy of Metro on Friday. If you haven’t seen it, it’s a free newspaper (in the broadest sense of the world) that is filled with stories of maybe 200 words. Most of it is advertising, and a big piece of the editorial space is filled with celebrity gossip. It’s the kind of newspaper read by people who don’t read newspapers.
Anyway, I grabbed it because of the blazing front-page headline: “OILER FANS MAD OVER CBC SNUB”. That has all the elements of a story to get the old western Canadian blood boiling: Edmonton Oilers slighted by big, bad, Toronto-centric CBC. Prepare to be outraged, I thought.
I’m outraged, all right. But only at the shabby quality of reporting in Metro.
“CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada is leaving some Oiler fans feeling snubbed after the release of its broadcast schedule for the upcoming hockey season,” the story begins.
The story says the “broadcast company” (it’s called a corporation, by the way) will show “only 13 of the Edmonton Oilers’s 82 games”. As for the supposed outrage from fans, the writer quotes two random people as being mildly peeved. Who these people are, aside from being Oiler fans, is not expanded upon. Using ‘streeters’ (random quotes from ill-informed people walking down the street) is shabby journalism, always has been, always will be. It is not, in any way, a gauge of public opinion. It’s something you see on television news.
Anyway, opinion of supposedly angry fans aside, what about the facts of the story?
First, the story is factually incorrect. The CBC is showing only 12 of the Oilers’ 82 games. That should make an Oiler fan even angrier, right?
But what the story doesn’t say is that the Oilers are playing only 16 Saturday games all season. So, put another way, the CBC is showing 12 of the Oilers’ 16 Saturday games. But why don’t they show them all, you ask. Well, of the 16 Oiler Saturday games, the four the CBC is not showing are afternoon games. With a few exceptions for season opener games and rare mid-week games, the CBC airs Hockey Night in Canada at night (hence the title) and only on Saturday. It’s been that way for more than 50 years. So, the CBC showing 12 Oiler games is perfectly reasonable, considering the Oiler schedule.
The story does, at the end of the story, quotes the CBC as saying it is showing all Saturday night games involving Canadian teams. But the reporter and/or the editor have made up their minds — the CBC is the villain, facts of the story be damned.
I’m sorry, but this is pathetic reporting, even for a free newspaper. There is an attitude in some newspapers (particularly in the Sun chain) that if you really want to get people angry, just blame the CBC for some alleged affront. The CBC does a lot of things wrong, for which it is excoriated mercilessly, and some things right, for which it gets little credit. Trying to pin the “blame” for the Oilers appearing “only” 12 times on the CBC is shoddy journalism.