Joseph Planta talks with Cameron Bell



BCTV News Director Cameron Bell, Keith Bradbury & News Anchor Tony Parsons


By Joseph Planta

The Commentary

April 16, 2015

The Commentaries’ Joseph Planta talks with Cameron Bell,

First a reporter with CHAN TV, then Anchor, then News Director and the beginnings of The News Hour and BCTV, now Global BC TV

 Listen HERE



  1. Several points.

    First, Joseph Planta is an exceptional interviewer. Calm, cool, conversational and he actually does research.

    Second, Cameron Bell’s view of electronic journalism is as relevant today as it was 45 years ago.

    His opinion that TV camera people are the REAL journalists is only partly correct. When I worked in TV news my shooting suggestions were often welcomed by my camera person, and just as often rejected. It was a partnership.

    I love his reference to spokespeople emitting “bafflegab and flackery and lies”. How true. I recall arguing with producers and news directors that I would rather NOT run any clips, audio or visual, of flacks, cops, firemen or other spokespersons unless it was more than just token because I couldn’t see how it advanced the story, but likely advanced the profile of those folks, and being told that I really needed to fill that 120 seconds with more than just good information that I had gathered and written.

    Bell’s opinion of CTV Vancouver’s newscast approach is enlightening, considering he was involved in it’s original structure when it was born as Channel 9. As he says, they are doing some nicve, information gathering, but it is lost in the same old, formulaic presntation – two presenters, one male, one female, who may or may not have crediblity.

    It is sad that almost all Canadian TV newscasting is modelled on the U-S style, rather than BBCs product in which all their presenters and field reporters are shown to be smart, cogent and versatile in LIVE situations.

  2. Broose:

    Are you Cameron Bell, or his wife ?

    There was a much darker side to Cameron Bell, namely, (in his mind?) the Sun and Moon revolved solely around Vancouver and the B.C . border stopped at Abbotsford.

    Those who lived in Prince George, the Cariboo, the Interior, the Island, the Far North and the Kootenays were all screwed and they didn’t matter, in Cameron Bell’s twisted world.

    Only Vancouver counted.

    As far as the cameraman being a journalist, I don’t have a problem with that. The camera never lies, but it does make “fat” people fatter.

    But, also the opposite ? It can make plain looking women and men look prettier, and short people like Tony Parsons look taller, if the camera likes them.

    His reference to spokespeople is interesting, since some of his BCTV reporters later became expert spokespeople and shill people, like Jim Hart, Eli Sopow and John McKeachie .

    Regarding the “same old” formulaic presentation at CTV Vancouver, well, what can one really do anymore to be innovative, except present the news, naked, like “The Naked News” LOL

    Then, (and only then ?) would you surely have…. a newscast with nothing to hide !

    But didn’t they turn all the cameramen into robots in the BCTV main studios. So, the only cameraman are those who go out into the field.

  3. Hi folks,

    I just listened to this interview and I found it to be very captivating and insightful.I have always appreciated Cameron’s thoughts on local TV news. I have great respect for the experience he brings to the table. I also believe Joeseph is a very good interviewer.

    That said, I have to rebut the sentiment that audiences are shrinking for 6:00 newscasts. As the News Director at CTV Vancouver I am very happy to tell you that CTV News at 6:00 grew by an impressive 23% in the 2013 broadcast year. In 2014 we posted another 5% increase. I think it is unfair to generalize that 6:00 news viewing is down when CTV has in recent years posted some of it’s best results since PPM’s were launched in this market. Assuming that one newroom’s troubles are shared by all news outlets is an inaccurate portrayal of what is happening.

    As for focus here at CTV Vancouver ( former known at “Channel 9”). I assure you that all journalists here are specifically focused on our mission of leading in local news, breaking news and news that is relevant and important to viewers. We don’t do stories that are important to important people and we don’t do stories to impress other journalists. Our mandate is to trigger, or at the very least, join the conversation or the public debate. We are very aware of who our viewer is and the content they seek.

    Keep up the great interviews Joeseph and I hope to see you again soon Cameron.



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