Lisa LaFlamme, CTV Information, and Dangerous Govt Selections

Lisa LaFlamme, CTV Information, and Dangerous Govt Selections
Former CTV nationwide anchor
Lisa LaFlamme

There will probably be no bittersweet on-air goodbye for (now former) CTV nationwide information anchor Lisa LaFlamme, no ceremonial passing of the baton to the following era, no broadcast retrospectives lionizing a journalist with a storied and award-winning profession. As LaFlamme announced yesterday, CTV’s guardian firm, Bell Media, has determined to unilaterally finish her contract. (See additionally the CBC’s reporting of the story here.)

Whereas LaFlamme herself doesn’t make this declare, there was in fact instant hypothesis that the community’s choice has one thing to do with the truth that LaFlamme is a lady of a sure age. LaFlamme is 58, which by TV requirements is just not precisely younger — besides once you evaluate it to the age at which widespread males who proceeded her have left their respective anchor’s chairs: think about Peter Mansbridge (who was 69), and Lloyd Robertson (who was 77).

However an much more sinister idea is now afoot: fairly than mere, shallow misogyny, proof has arisen of not simply sexism, however sexism conjoined with company interference in newscasting. Two evils for the worth of 1! LaFlamme was fired, says journalist Jesse Brown, “as a result of she pushed again towards one Bell Media govt.” Brown reviews insiders as claiming that Michael Melling, vice chairman of stories at Bell Media, has bumped heads with LaFlamme a variety of instances, and has a historical past of interfering with information protection. Brown additional reviews that “Melling has constantly demonstrated a scarcity of respect for girls in senior roles within the newsroom.”

For sure, even when a private grudge plus sexism clarify what’s happening, right here, it nonetheless will appear to most as a “silly choice,” one positive to trigger the corporate complications. Now, I make it a coverage to not query the enterprise savvy of skilled executives in industries I don’t know nicely. And I counsel my college students to not leap to the conclusion that “that was a dumb choice” simply because it’s one they don’t perceive. However nonetheless, in 2022, it’s arduous to think about that the corporate (or Melling extra particularly) didn’t see that there can be blowback on this case. It’s one factor to have disagreements, but it surely’s one other to unceremoniously dump a beloved and award-winning girl anchor. And it’s weird {that a} senior govt at a information group would assume that the reality wouldn’t come out, provided that, in any case, he’s surrounded by folks whose job, and private dedication, is to report the information.

And it’s arduous to not suspect that this a lower than blissful transition for LaFlamme’s substitute, Omar Sachedina. In fact, I’m positive he’s blissful to get the job. However whereas Bell Media’s press launch quotes Sachedina saying swish issues about LaFlamme, absolutely he didn’t wish to assume the anchor chair amidst widespread criticism of the transition. He’s taking over the function below a shadow. Maybe the prize is well worth the worth, but it surely’s additionally arduous to not think about that Sachedina had (or now has) some pull, some potential to affect that method of the transition. I’m not saying (as some absolutely will) that — as an insider who is aware of the true story — he ought to have declined the job as ill-gotten good points. However on the very least, it appears honest to argue that he ought to have used his affect to form the transition. And if the now-senior anchor doesn’t have that form of affect, we needs to be fearful certainly concerning the independence of that function, and of that newsroom.

A closing, associated notice about authority and governance in advanced organizations. In any fairly well-governed group, the choice to axe a serious, public-facing expertise like LaFlamme would require sign-off — or no less than tacit approval — from multiple senior govt. This implies that considered one of two issues is true. Both Bell Media isn’t that form of well-governed group, or numerous folks have been concerned in, and culpable of, unceremoniously dumping an award-winning journalist. Which is worse?