Both terms for the anchors have been extraordinary. Newman essentially built the infrastructure for Global National and made it the largest overall national newscast. Robertson essentially defined anchoring in Canada over a 50-year career and made CTV's the largest late-night newscast through a longer-term creation of infrastructure. Each changed the operating culture of his news division and both redefined the newscasts under them, just as competitor Peter Mansbridge has in winning the most industry awards at CBC.
(My statements of several conflicts in this post: Newman is a longtime friend and colleague, I have worked at CBC and been part of Mansbridge's newscast political panel at times, and I was Robertson's boss for two years at CTV News. I appointed LaFlamme to be host of Canada AM, and on her second day, 9/11 happened. She and co-appointee Rod Black handled the challenge very well (they won a Gemini for it) until Robertson arrived and anchored for most of the next day and beyond. While these comments seem tepid, I happen to think we're served exceptionally by our national newscasts for a country our size. Their perspectives are ambitious and their storytelling distinct from each other to create good consumer choice. End of conflict statement.)
The Canadian television newscasts are not unlike the Canadian newspapers, in that they haven't been battered by audience departures the way their counterparts below the border have been. If you include the digital audiences, more people consume the content now than any time in the last decade and a half. Still, they recognize the need for constant change, accelerated in the digital era.
What will be interesting in the time ahead under these three anchors will be the evolution of the dinner-hour and late-night newscasts. Some commentators suggest the day is past for the evening newscast, but the audience indicates otherwise. A large contingent still makes an appointment to be in front of the television set at a particular hour, just as they set aside time for the paper.
As many media find themselves increasingly focusing on their local relevance in an age of choice for non-local media, though, how will national/international newscasts create an event worthy of making an appointment? The same challenge exists for newspapers. Canadians have so far been highly tolerant and supportive as they redefine themselves.
What is also interesting is that the networks continue to lean heavily toward journalists and not news readers. Friesen is an accomplished reporter, as is LaFlamme. Mansbridge, Newman and Robertson all have been involved extensively in field reporting and long-form anchoring of specials, election coverage and events. All three anchors --- one in the supper hour, when there are more viewers, and two at night when there are fewer --- possess a strong grasp of the always-on digital imperatives for their operations. What is in store should be exciting.