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30 2011

Three Questions for the Executive Producer of The Agenda

Syndicated from: Steve Paikin

The day after Labour Day marks the beginning of our sixth season on The Agenda. As was the case in previous seasons, we've spent considerable time over the summer thinking about how to make the broadcast better. We think that's even more crucial this year, since our season begins in the thick of a provincial election campaign.   I've asked The Agenda's executive producer, Dan Dunsky, to answer three questions from me, in hopes of getting more information on some of the changes awaiting Agenda viewers in September.       Steve Paikin: Dan, let's start with the obvious. The day after we're back on the air (Wed. Sept. 7), Premier McGuinty will visit the Lieutenant-Governor, ask him to drop the writs, and officially kick start the 2011 election campaign. How does The Agenda intend to make its mark in providing analysis on what's shaping up to be one of the most competitive and interesting provincial elections in years?     Dan Dunsky:  The Agenda will provide comprehensive coverage of the upcoming election on-air, online at  and on our soon-to-be launched mobile app for your iPhone, BlackBerry, or Android smartphone.   Viewers can expect to see something on the program every night during the election campaign: interviews with party leaders, analysis of party platforms, examination of the government's record in office, as well as the kind of broader, idea-based programs people have come to expect of The Agenda.   Online users will find exclusive campaign video, guest blogs and live chats on key campaign issues, data visualizations tracking our 'citizens' agenda' plus a terrific elections primer -- everything you wanted to know about elections but were afraid to ask.   And, of course, on election night we'll be tracking results live from across the province on-air and online from 8 PM until the premier-elect has given his or her speech.       SP: Okay, let's look further afield. Over the past few years, we've taken this program "on the road" to cities and towns all over Ontario. We've got one more planned before Election Day. And we've also come up with a new concept: "The Agenda in Public." Tell us about these two ventures.     DD: In early October, we'll be holding the last of our pre-election Agenda on the Road specials -- this one in Mississauga. On Sunday, October 2, we'll be holding our AgendaCamp at the Living Arts Centre. That's where anyone can come and tell us what they think the provincial election should be about -- what issue or issues matter most to them. Then, on Monday, October 3, we have a live broadcast of The Agenda from Mississauga City Hall. We'll take the issues identified by people the day before and put them to Liberal, PC, NDP, and Green candidates running in Peel Region. For more information and to sign up, click here.     Then, later in the season, we're going to try something new -- specials we're calling The Agenda in Public.  These issue-driven public events will feature Big Ideas lectures and Agenda broadcasts and will kick off a special week of programming on The Agenda. Stay tuned for more details.   So, there are now a number of ways in which people can connect with The Agenda: on-air, on-line, and in-public. And, coming this September, we'll be launching an Agenda app that will stream our programs, and feed our blogs, tweets, and Facebook updates to your BlackBerry, iPhone, or Android smartphone.    Honestly, does it get any better than that?   SP: Last question: we did something different over the summer this time. New substitute host, new interviews, new debates. Why the change?   DD: The summer used to be a down-time for the media: newspapers were thinner, reruns aired on TV, weekly magazines published only twice a month, etc. And, while consumption of media still declines during the summer, viewers and readers don't disappear the way they once did. The explosion of digital media, especially the phenomenal growth of smartphones, means that people are now really never 'away' from the news and current affairs. We can argue about whether or not that's a good thing -- and we have on The Agenda -- but I don't think too many people see this as a short-term trend. That means that our viewers have come to expect that we will be airing new programs during the summer. And since you need to take a breather once in a while, Steve, that's where Piya Chattopadhyay comes in. And she's done a terrific job.   SP: Agreed.  Thanks Dan.

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