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Maybe they ARE paying attention...

Wow! What a pleasant surprise. There, as CTV Vancouver’s local news top story tonight (Tuesday), was a hidden-camera investigation into B.C.’s program to prevent voluntarily self-restricted problem gamblers from entering casinos. 

The system failed … repeatedly … as a supposedly “listed” problem gambler entered three Vancouver-area casinos, gambled, and cashed in his proceeds without a single security official, casino staffer or cashier at ANY of the locations stepping in to even question, let alone stop, the  problem gambler, even though he had been photographed, interviewed and entered into the BC-wide banning system.

The story was rivetting and revealin, but what really impressed me was that it was being done!  And apparently as part of a five-part CTV investigative series this week on BC’s burgeoning gaming industry complete with hidden cameras.  Great!

Take it from me, these kinds of series take a good deal of research, time to set up, extensive camera resources and in the case of hidden video, some unusual and potentially risky efforts. It all worked.

And as CTV pointed out, B.C. is cashing in on the gambling explosion and all the losers. The B.C. government has increased the previous on-line gambling limit of $120 per week to $10,000 a week.  And there’s much more to come.

My favorite part?  A clip of Premier Gordon Campbell being scrummed by a CTV reporter about BC’s exploding promotion and expansion of gambling, giving a terse weak answer and then walking away from  the camera and further questions, clearly unhappy. Now that’s reporting!

Maybe local news managers and producers are paying attention to the rants on this and other blogs? Maybe they now realize that, in a universe where locally available  television channels number above 100, dishing up the accident or shooting-du-jour, press conference announcements and puffy promo pieces won’t  retain audiences?  And maybe they are finally getting the resources they need to produce more real News and investigative series, to stem the flight of newswatchers to the Internet?

And tonight, it wasn’t just CTV that shined this way.  When I flipped to CBC’s local newscast, there was another interesting piece about a company selling and promoting outrageously priced “guides” to government grant programs, some of which no longer even exist.  The company wasn’t available for comment. But it was at least exposed. Great story!

Wednesday night, CTV’s series on gambling in B.C. will continue, this time, focussing on crime.

I can hardly wait.

Reprinted by permission of Harv Oberfeld. This article first appeared on his blog,  Keeping it Real.