Bell Media continues to take heat for pushing iconic anchor Lisa LaFlamme out of CTV
The abrupt and unceremonious termination of longtime CTV anchor Lisa LaFlamme after 35 years of excellence continues to make waves (and headlines) more than 48-hours after the journalist herself revealed that she'd been "blindsided" by parent company Bell Media's cancellation of her contract.
That is to say that this story isn't fading away like most media hiring-and-firing controverises.
If anything, the backlash against LaFlamme's dismissal continues to pick up steam as insiders speak out on "toxic" conditions at CTV that some say paved the way for a vindictive-sounding Bell executive to axe one of the most respected and accomplished journalists in Canadian history.
Sorry not sorry, Bell brass; this "business decision" won't soon be forgotten, or ever forgiven in some cases.
I will not be tuning in anymore. She was the reason I made it a point to watch it. Shame that @BellMediaPR thought nothing of her work. So much cruelty involved in this despicable behaviour. I stand with you @LisaLaFlamme_— Zoey’s gram (@TaylorGal4ev) August 16, 2022
Canadians were shocked on Monday when LaFlamme announced through social media that her contract her contract with Bell Media had been cancelled against her wishes.
"I was blindsided and am still shocked and saddened by Bell Media's decision," she said in a video shared to her personal social accounts not long after Bell formally announced the news itself on Aug. 15.
"While it is crushing to be leaving CTV National News in a manner that is not my choice, please know reporting to you has truly been the greatest honour of my life."
Newsrooms and living rooms alike were rocked, not only to learn that Bell Media had decided to part ways with LaFlamme to begin with, but by how the dismissal was handled.
Lisa LaFlamme is an iconic broadcaster at the top of her game. Routinely awarded best anchor in Canada. Being replaced by a 38-yr-old man when her predecessor was allowed to stay until he was 77? Don't need to be a human rights lawyer to see sexism & ageism. WTF @BellMediaPR? https://t.co/obcbd2JShy— Paul Champ (@PaulChampLaw) August 16, 2022
First came the second-day stories: The shocking anonymous insider deets, the roundups of audience and industry reactions, the tangential explorations of how women in Canadian media are treated vs. their male counterparts...
Canadaland dropped a bombshell on Tuesday by publishing allegations from (anonymous) CTV staff that LaFlamme had been "clumsily fired because she pushed back against one Bell Media executive."
The executive in question is alleged to be Michael Melling, Bell Media's vice president of news.
CTV employees who spoke to Canadaland claimed that LaFlamme had clashed with Melling over resource issues and the attempted shuffling of her executive producer to another Bell-owned media property (CP24).
"He's a company man. He does not stand up for the journalists," said one "high level CTV source" whose name was withheld.
"He doesn't like it when women push back and he brags about how he's destroyed careers of anyone who dares push back."
"Lisa was the most powerful woman at CTV News and he managed to get rid of her. This is about the corporatization of news. This is about this toxic work environment that Michael Melling in his short tenure has created in the newsroom."https://t.co/MtNq04HKC9— Fatima Syed (@fatimabsyed) August 16, 2022
"As a former CTVNews employee, I can tell you current management puts forward a great effort to ensure that you do not feel valued," tweeted broadcaster Anwar Knight in response to the news. "They don't want a team that exudes passion, self-worth, respect & integrity."
"Past her stellar journalistic career & credentials, Lisa LaFlamme allowed herself to age gracefully on national tv. She showed us daily that we can stay relevant, strong, beautiful & that age didn't matter," tweeted Dragons' Den star Arlene Dickinson.
"Then the folks at CTV brought their female ageism to work."
Former Ontario MPP Cheri DiNovo wrote on Twitter that "The Lisa LaFlamme story begs the bigger question: Who are the men (and they are men) behind the major news sources in Canada? Let's see their faces and their resumes."
‘Every woman in Canada, young or old, should be concerned over Lisa LaFlamme’s shabby treatment by a major corporation. Who will be next?’ CTV anchor ‘blindsided’ by exit, plus other letters to the editor for Aug. 17 https://t.co/l0PajpHtQ4— The Globe and Mail (@globeandmail) August 17, 2022
As the week moves on, we're now starting to see opinion columns roll out in Canada's biggest newspapers, where veteran writers are pulling no punches in letting CTV know how they feel and how LaFlamme's curt dismisssal looks to young journalists, women and workers everywhere.
"This was a sexist, ageist, elbow-flexing power play that has provoked immense outrage from the TV viewing public and within the industry," wrote The Toronto Star's Rosie DiManno in a piece published Tuesday with the title "Lisa LaFlamme was a decorated news veteran who deserved better."
"If Lisa LaFlamme were a man, she would still have her job as top CTV news anchor," contended Luisa D'Amato for the Waterloo Region Record. "The abrupt decision to dump LaFlamme reeks of a sexist double standard at the network."
Opinions may vary slightly between writers, but most people seem to agree on one thing: That, as David Friend argued for the Canadian Press in a piece published Tuesday, CTV seriously mishandled its treatment of LaFlamme's departure.
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