When China liked the 'lively' style of CBC's The National

The National had at least one influential viewer in China who liked what CBC was doing with its national news program in 1980.

People's Daily report in November 1980 saw things to admire about CBC's flagship news broadcast

The National catches the eye of China

44 years ago
Duration 2:02
In 1980, The National reports on a report about The National that aired in China.

More than four decades ago, there was at least one influential viewer in China who liked what CBC was doing with its national news program.

To the point where the People's Daily ran a story on The National in November of 1980, saying the CBC's nightly broadcast provided an example of what China could do with its own news programming.

"It seems the Chinese are trying to put some life into their rather mundane newscasts and according to an article in the state-run newspaper today, they've been watching tapes of The National for some ideas," Knowlton Nash told viewers on Nov. 7, 1980.

From Beijing — then called Peking on air by CBC staff — it was up to the CBC's Don Murray to get into the details on what was so interesting about The National.

Same-day news and a 'lively' tone

Old TV with image of CBC's The National
The People's Daily reported that CBC's The National was a "lively and informative" program, according to Don Murray's translation of what the state-run Chinese newspaper reporter wrote. (The National/CBC Archives)

For one, The National tended to run items on news from around the world on the day that news happened, as opposed to a few days later.

"The article in today's People's Daily tells Chinese readers in tones of admiration and wonder that in Canada they do it differently," said Murray.

"They cover the news the same day it happens and show the film the same night," Murray added, quoting a translation of what the reporter said in the paper.

Murray said the fact that on-air reporters were seen interviewing people — including everyday people, as well as government officials — also got noticed. The People's Daily made note of the way those same TV reporters "make some comments on the situation" in the reports shown on television.

Flashy graphics

map of Canada with white dot on Alberta
The National's Across Canada segment was mentioned in the People's Daily report on the broadcast. (The National/CBC Archives)

The overall style of The National seemed to intrigue the reporter writing in the People's Daily, indicating that "Canadian television news is lively and informative and the Chinese should learn from its example."

But The National seemed particularly chuffed over the fact that its Across Canada segment and its use of a semi-animated map graphic had caught the eye of the Chinese reporter.

"He devotes several lines to describing to Chinese readers, exactly how the little dot bounces across the map of Canada when Knowlton Nash reads the short news item," said Murray, referring to the People's Daily reporter and his description of the nightly round-up of news from across the country.

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