CBC Radio Sunday Edition: "Spin, The Spinners and The Spun"

Via email this morning, news that CBC Radio One's superb "Sunday Edition" show is set to launch a new six-part series titled "Spin Cycles", hosted by CBC producer and author Ira Basen.

Strangely, I can't find the original announcement on the wires or anywhere on the CBC site, which is kind of sucky (why is the CBC.ca site search so horribly bad?).

This series sounds like an important, interesting, and worthwhile endeavour for the CBC, and something of particular relevance to a lot of the readers of this blog - so I hope they won't mind me reposting the entire announcement here:


CBC Radio producer and author Ira Basen takes on the news media and the public relations industry in Spin Cycles: A Series About Spin, The Spinners And The Spun, a six-part series airing during the final hour of THE SUNDAY EDITION, beginning Jan. 21 at 11 a.m. on CBC Radio One. The series, produced and narrated by Basen, provides listeners with a rare look into the strategic orchestration that goes into many of the stories that make headlines.

As a veteran current affairs producer for CBC Radio, Basen grew frustrated with guests dodging questions and pushing key messages instead of directly answering questions. Basen sets out to better understand what drives the public relations industry, and tries to bridge the gap between journalists and PR practitioners.

Public relations is a robust vehicle for selling the public on everything from a war to a lifestyle. Spin Cycles explores a range of issues surrounding the PR industry, from its humble beginnings to the significant challenges this multi-billion dollar industry now presents to journalists.

A highlight in the series is Basen's look at political spin. Through interviews with pioneers of modern day spin, including the communications consultants behind Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton and Canadian prime ministers from Lester Pearson to Paul Martin, Spin Cycles examines how these PR wizards concocted "leaks" to selective reporters, who then transformed their spin into "news". The series then analyzes how effective reporters have been at cutting through this media manipulation.

In the widely publicized case of Maher Arar, some journalists uncritically reported politically motivated leaks from the RCMP. The leaks were designed to justify the RCMP's treatment of Arar, but they had the effect of doing even more damage to Arar's reputation. It is just one example of how spin doctors take advantage of the intensely competitive nature of the modern media. Reporters and editors want their "scoops", even if it means becoming passive conduits for official spin.

"Spin itself is relatively benign. It becomes toxic when the press fails to do its job. I hope this series helps listeners take in the news with a more critical eye," says Basen.

The program will also explore the future challenges for PR practitioners and journalists at a time of shrinking newsroom budgets, increased demand for content, and a PR industry that continues to grow in size and sophistication.

Spin Cycles airs from Jan. 21 to Feb. 25 at 11 a.m. (11:30 NT) on CBC Radio One.

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I think this is going to be a must listen programme. Clashes with Sunday morning mass for us, but I'll have to remember to tape it.

PR for the CBC is being handled by Toronto's Media Profile, btw. Smart firm with good people. Wonder if they might be able to convince the CBC to build a proper online press room...?