Thanks for replying Susan. I know that CN has used different people for race reports, but until this TDF they all seemed quite good. What's lacking in the live report now is the following:
1) Something of a preamble to the stage that discusses the course profile, the weather, the objectives of key riders, the objectives and likely strategies of key teams, overnight news, any quotes from riders about the previous or upcoming stage, etc. I know I don't have to tell you this because you would usually provide it, but it used to be something of a given in previous live reports no matter who was doing the reporting...no sign of it now.
2) Enough ongoing description of the actions of the peloton, the break, the fans, weather changes etc., to create a vivid picture in the reader's mind about what is happening, as though they were there. Perhaps management now pays by the word and wants as little written as possible, but yesterday's report fell far below the standard of any live report I've ever read on CN. It was terse to the point of tedium.
3) Humor. Where's the blimp? Where's the e-mail interaction with readers during the stage? What are the cow sightings? The live report needs life...it should not just be a mechanical recitation of events.
4) Well-presented summaries during the stage. It was always standard practice to periodically provide the break members, chasers (with names) at X time, more chasers (with names) at Y and peloton (with key riders) at Z. Hardly saw any of that yesterday.
5) Proper handling of the closing kilometers and post-finish summary. This is when the race is most dramatic of course, and when the reporter really needs to make the extra effort to communicate precisely what's happening. Yesterday was a sprint finish, and different teams had various sprint contenders, but there was very little discussion of that. The fact that the crash near the finish wiped out the trains of different sprinters was never mentioned, nor even that trains had formed. The reporting became so abbreviated and murky that I had to read the last part twice just to figure out that Cavendish had won. Furthermore, there were no brief results, and no brief written summary (a few sentences) of the finish or the stage as a whole, which is often provided to close out the live report.
Stylistic differences are fine, but big quality differences are a problem.