Bell unexpectedly cuts anchor Lisa LaFlamme's CTV career short after 35 years
Veteran journalist, anchor, hair influencer and Canadian treasure Lisa LaFlamme is officially leaving CTV after 35 years of service — but not by choice.
To the chagrin (and in many cases fury) of viewers, colleagues, friends and young reporters everywhere who have long been inspired by LaFlamme's unwavering bravery and journalistic integrity, the Kitchener native announced on Monday that she was "blindsided" to learn earlier this summer that her contract with Bell Media had been terminated.
"Today, with a range of emotions, I'm sharing with you some information about me and my career with CTV News," said LaFlamme of the Bell Media-owned news outlet in a video posted online Monday afternoon.
"For 35 years, I have had the privilege of being welcomed into your homes to deliver the news on a nightly basis, so I felt you should hear this directly from me."
I have some news... pic.twitter.com/lTe3Rs0kOA— Lisa LaFlamme (@LisaLaFlamme_) August 15, 2022
LaFlamme, who has interviewed everyone from Prince Harry and Paul McCartney to Alex Trebek and Bill Clinton, says she was informed on June 29 of this year that Bell Media had made a "business decision" to end her contract.
"I was blindsided and am still shocked and saddened by Bell Media's decision," she said in the video, as shared to her personal social accounts not long after Bell formally announced the news on Aug. 15.
"I was also asked to keep this confidential from my colleagues and the public until the specifics of my exit could be resolved. That has now happened."
Indeed, it happened on Monday, shocking probably every single person (aside from LaFlamme) who read Bell's press release announcing her "departure" from CTV News.
Breaking News on someone who was always Breaking News. My friend and former colleague Lisa LaFlamme leaving CTV News. Always missed working with her now gonna miss watching her. Happy Trails to the Best of the Best.👀🎙 pic.twitter.com/WJDNtwfShX— Rod Black 🇨🇦🇺🇦 (@RodBlackTV) August 15, 2022
"CTV announced today that Chief News Anchor and Senior Editor Lisa LaFlamme is departing the network. Since 2011, LaFlamme has anchored CTV NATIONAL NEWS, and before that spent more than a decade as CTV News' National Affairs Correspondent," reads Bell Media's release.
"Recognizing changing viewer habits, CTV recently advised LaFlamme that it had made the business decision to move its acclaimed news show and the role of its Chief News Anchor in a different direction."
LaFlamme began her career with CKCO, a Kitchener-based CTV affiliate, as a copy writer and script assistant in 1988. She has worked for the Canadian news brand ever since in various capacities including reporter, parliamentary correspondent, co-host, national affairs correspondent and, most recently, Chief Anchor and Senior Editor of CTV National News.
No word yet from Bell on what it means by going in a "different direction," or why it would ever part ways with such a respected Canadian journalist, but people have theories — one of the more prominent ones having to do with women being pushed out of powerful visibility at far younger ages than their male colleagues.
Not letting her say goodbye on air is disgusting behaviour by the network and Bell Media. This is sexism pure and simple.— Julie Chapman (@juliechapmanlaw) August 15, 2022
The fact that Bell is replacing LaFlamme, 58, with a 39-year-old man (Omar Sachedina) has not gone unnoticed.
"CTV let Lloyd Roberston deliver the news until he was nearly 1000 years old and then sent him off with great fanfare. Lisa LaFlamme had to sign off via a Twitter video at the cottage. They did her dirty big time," wrote one fan online.
"What do sexism and ageism look like in Canadian journalism in 2022? Bell Media replacing a trailblazing 58 year old woman journalist as anchor of CTV's nightly national newscast with a less accomplished 39 year old man," wrote another.
Firing a national news anchor of Lisa LaFlamme’s stature is going to be one of the biggest Canadian business mistakes, in 2022.— Susan King (@suki50) August 15, 2022
P.S. Apparently the CEO of #BellMedia is a guy named Mirko Bibic. He made almost $10 million in 2020. @BellMediaPR #StandWithLisa #CancelBell pic.twitter.com/9eJsXEeKRX
Some Twitter users have presented counterpoints that are worth considering, such as how high LaFlamme's salary must have been compared to the younger journalist replacing her.
Sometimes, business is just business, as callous as it is, though that means nothing to the many Canadians who care more about great journalism than Bell's bottom line (or rather, the amount of executive bonuses).
Many people are praising LaFlamme as news of her departure spreads for handling the situation with aplomb.
"This is deeply unfair and dishonourable, and yet Lisa LaFlamme, whose presence and name is as synonymous with news in Canada as double double is to coffee, handles this with the grace that she, an icon of Canadian media, could only possess," reads one tweet responding to the news.
It takes a lot to floor me. This is jaw-dropping.— Lucas Meyer (@meyer_lucas) August 15, 2022
Lisa LaFlamme giving her sign-off from home, no heads up to the public, not doing it from the desk where it should be done. Wow.
Needless to say, CTV's release doesn't include a quote from her: https://t.co/15mv4unzPj #cdnmedia https://t.co/J5SipKWJi1
Journalists are speaking out from all over the country to express their shock, sadness and appreciation toward LaFlamme for inspiring them to pursue careers in the news industry.
"I've always thought of Lisa LaFlamme as a journalism hero. Her fearless reporting, including from war zones, made me want to go into reporting as a young person," wrote the Globe and Mail's Kristy Kirkup similarly. "Thank you, Lisa, for inspiring scores of journalists across Canada. Very sorry to see this news."
"Wow, Lisa LaFlamme. An inspiration to a generation of women journalists, who brought gravitas and decades of experience to the anchor chair, every newscast," wrote CBC News reporter Lauren Pelley on Monday.
"We're all sad to see you go, and it's a damn shame it happened like *this*."
Oh my this is a shocker. I am so sorry, my friend.Since we started working together years ago at CTV I’ve watched you work your butt off and earn the respect of colleagues,competitors and viewers.None of us last in these gigs forever but seems to me you deserve better than this.— Dawna Friesen (@DFriesenGlobal) August 15, 2022
Ever the class act, LaFlamme herself hasn't tossed any barbs at Bell. Rather, she focused in her video on showing gratitude toward her viewers, colleagues and subjects.
"I want you to know what these last 35 years mean to me… Everything," she said in her unofficial final CTV signoff, reflecting on her time spent reporting from war zones in Iraq, Afghanistan and Ukraine, as well as on stories about natural disasters, the pandemic, federal elections, the Olympics and this summer's papal apology to residential school survivors.
"This is a trust I have never taken for granted, as a reporter and as an anchor. I am forever grateful to you, such loyal viewers, for sharing in the belief that news delivered with integrity and truth strengthens our democracy," said LaFlamme in her video.
"At 58, I still thought I'd have a lot more time to tell more of the stories that impact our daily lives. Instead, I leave CTV humbled by the people who put their faith in me to tell their story."
LaFlamme did not speak to any further plans for her career, though (if she isn't ready for some well-earned retirement time) it stands to reason that other news outlets will be jumping at the chance to hire such a respected and beloved talent.
"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," said LaFlamme. "And I thank you for always being there."
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