During the current Canadian election, CTV, the country’s largest private broadcaster, built a nightly campaign show around Mike Duffy, one of Canada’s best-known political reporters. Less conventional is the reporter that “Count Down With Mike Duffy” uses for its interviews with Canada’s party leaders: He is Daniel Cook, and he is 8 years old.
Since the start of this month, viewers have been treated to a weekly interview by Daniel with each of the three party leaders running national campaigns.
Putting an 8-year-old on the campaign buses gave a “unique perspective” to CTV’s coverage, said Robert G. Hurst, the division’s president. The election, which is today, is the second Canadians have had in about 18 months, so the event has little novelty on its own.
During Daniel’s session with Paul Martin, the current prime minister, both drank milkshakes and played the board game “Operation” during a discussion about Canada’s public health care system. Mr. Martin noted that, based on their game skills, improving the system required better surgeons than either himself or Daniel.
Both the prime minister and one of his challengers, Stephen Harper, the Conservative leader, dodged the junior reporter when he asked which of their opponents could get their votes.
In an interview, Daniel acknowledged that political news had not been high on his television viewing list. “But I like watching the police reports,” he added.
While the program is Daniel’s political reporting debut, he is no stranger to television. Since he was 6, he has been the host of “This Is Daniel Cook,” a children’s program that appears on several Canadian channels and in abbreviated form on the Disney Channel in the United States.
Mr. Hurst said Daniel’s parents imposed the condition that Daniel have a tutor while he is on the campaign trail.
Mr. Hurst said the child reporter concept was criticized by some journalists as a gimmick, “but we decided to forge ahead with the beautiful idea of a fresh perspective.” But he is skeptical that it will fulfill every television news program’s quest for younger viewers.
“We’d be kidding ourselves if we think that grades three, four and five kids will be flooding to this,” Mr. Hurst said.