AJAs 2018 Finalists


Slug/Label Compass, September 19, 2018
Date Aired or Published September 19, 2018
Media outlet where first aired or published: CBC Prince Edward Island
Name of Program: Compass
If co-produced, list partner: n/a
Location: Charlottetown
List awards, grants: n/a
Running time (TV/Radio): 47:51

Short explanation of the story and how it developed:

Our Compass program is an integral part of the daily lives of many Islanders. The PEI joke is, "if it's not on (the) Compass, it didn't happen." So of course we ensure each day our program reflects the stories most important to Islanders. And when breaking news happens, it's our aim to be absolutely on top of it. In the show we've submitted, our top story was the massive search effort underway off the westernmost tip of PEI involving crews on land, water, and in the air. The conditions were difficult; the weather was cold & blustery. This area was remote, more than two hours from our station, with little cell service. Because this was an ongoing search it was difficult to obtain information, and we had to be sensitive to those waiting for news. Reporter Steve Bruce worked all day for all platforms, and was live into our TV program. We had technical challenges due to the location, and our cameraman spent hours finding a location, finally using a signal from a local business to broadcast. CBC PEI has a very small team and what our two reporters/VJs and one cameraperson accomplished was remarkable. After our broadcast many locals, as well as family members of the missing men, thanked us for our coverage while their community was in crisis, and for the way we treated this story. Our meteorologist, Jay Scotland, completely re-worked his format in order to give specific forecasts for the West Prince areas, and for water conditions there. He created graphics from scratch in order to give people the latest live information from the search perimeter, in order to further give our audience a sense of the conditions search crews were facing, which included wind advisories and 2/3 metre waves. Obviously, the missing fishermen story dominated this particular program with live and taped elements, as well as interviews and a weather component. But this program also had many other important stories. The government announced new daycare spaces and our reporter visited a childcare facility to find out about the implications. The legalization of marijuana was only a month away so we had done many segments on that topic, and this night we spoke about the health implications. Nationally, the NAFTA/USMCA talks were at their height and we had a report from Washington as well as a live update from Ottawa. We also had an update on a CBC investigation into Ticketmaster and its selling practices.

Resources of the newsroom (money and time) available to complete the story:

As I mentioned above, CBC PEI is a small operation. The breaking new story this day, in a bigger newsroom would have multiple reporters, camera people, editorial producers, resource producers, and technical coordinators on site. We had two VJs and one camera person working for all platforms. The site was two hours of travel time from our bureau, so that automatically shortens the available time for newsgathering. Our cameraman could not get a signal for our Dejero and so spent hours driving all over the area to try to find a location to broadcast. When that failed, he tried local businesses we know of in the area and finally found one that allowed us to use their internet. This put even more pressure on the VJs to gather material since he was out of the mix. On top of this, our program on this particular night was very close to not getting to air at all. We had problems with our transmission lines from Toronto and our director, while trying to prepare for a very complicated program with many live elements, was working right up to 5:55pm trying to sort out that problem. Our Senior Producer back at our bureau puts everything together for our supperhour program basically single-handed. Our show is staffed "behind the scenes" with that single position. Our host pitches in to write, cut and research material on a daily basis. On any given day we may also have 4 reporters at most contributing to the show. We are very lean, but that does not have an impact on our final product and we are very proud of the our show every day - but this day especially.

Return to list of finalists