Last weekend was Culture Days in Canada, a collaborative pan-Canadian volunteer movement to raise the awareness, accessibility, participation and engagement of all Canadians in the arts and cultural life of their communities.
Of all the free activities scheduled in Ottawa, I chose to visit CBC Ottawa, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s local T.V station. I worked on Sparks Street for a year, one block from the CBC Ottawa Broadcast Centre. I saw the flurry of journalists and T.V crews every day, and I have always wanted to see what the headquarter looked like inside.
We joined the huge queue on Sparks early Saturday afternoon and hoped to be able to get in. We immediately noticed the crowd was older than us—most people seemed to be in their 60s.
I soon realized that most people were way more excited about the perspective of talking to “famous people” than we were. I do check CBC’s website for news once in a while but that’s about it. Other visitors were like walking encyclopaedias about the T.V station, they addressed the news anchor by their first name and seemed to have a strong opinion just about everything. I guess this is a true generation gap, as younger people don’t watch T.V as much: we get news from various online sources.
After queuing for 30 minutes, about ten of us were let in. Canadians, usually so polite, literally rushed inside —it was like being at a Justin Bieber concert with fans allowed backstage. Freaky. These older women fought their way in, the closest to the staff doing the tour, the better. One of them even yelled at a baby crying because she couldn’t hear the comments well enough!
The assignments room was a huge basement room with hundreds of desks, shared by French and English journalists. We then saw two studios: one used for the local news and the other one used the popular national political show, Power & Politics. Ian Black, the meteorologist, showed how hard it was to do the forecast: the presenter appears to be standing in front of a large map, but in the studio it is actually a large green background. It takes some practice to be able to point the cities accurately!
You can see the CBC Ottawa Open House set here.