The abrupt end of an anchor’s career makes sense to HR experts and the executives hoping the audience will move on quickly, but it poisons the team.
I bear no malice to Lisa LaFlamme. As far as I know (I've not watched nightly newscasts for over a decade) she is a dedicated professional broadcaster, a strong woman who worked her way to the top of a profession that was dominated by men for most of her career. This decision does seem abrupt and callous. Having said that, and as Kevin Newman points out, we don't know the entire story. I think it likely that CBC or Global will pick her up in short order.
I do think the Canadian media in general overestimates how deeply many Canadians feel about the high profile personalities that read/perform the nightly news on radio and television. The demographics of 'many Canadians' matters a great deal here, in my opinion. I generalize below, but I'd say it's pretty accurate based on what I've noted of viewership statistics for news programs in Canada.
For Baby Boomer and older viewers, I think they do in fact care deeply about these people, to the extent that some of them actually unconsciously feel they know them as friends, which is somewhat disturbing. For this demographic, it was traumatic to lose Lloyd Robertson, Knowlton Nash, Peter Mansbridge, Wendy Mesley, Kevin Newman, Lisa LaFlamme, and many more in local TV and radio across Canada. They truly miss these personalities when they leave to retire, or as in the case of Kevin and Lisa, are unceremoniously dumped. For this generation, I think it's like a friend's death, at least in their own heads. This celebrity adoration tendency of that generation of listeners / viewers may explain the inflated egos of some high profile hosts, though I have no way of knowing this for sure.
For GenX'ers like me, who for the most part have abandoned our parents and grandparents practice of 'appointment' viewing / listening to the news, it's a bit different. While we might miss personalities we've known or grown up (grown old) with, I would generally say it is not even close to the same emotional reaction. It would be more akin to realizing an acquaintance in one's own community, one that we recognized but were not close to in any way, had passed away. It would amount to essentially - 'oh, that's too bad, I'll miss seeing them' with no sense of actual loss.
For Milennials and younger listeners/viewers (I'm sure there are a few), I'm betting they hardly notice at all, and care even less. This is harsh, but having four children of my own and their friends, plus neices, nephews, and children of friends accross the country, I'd defend it as generally accurate. Overwhelmingly, if they do consume news content, they do so from social media influencers and their podcasts. They may see the odd clip from the legacy media on their devices, but that's about the extent they would even be exposed to them.
I did listen to the CBC Radio World Report this morning by announcing 'Good Morning' to my Google Nest Mini hanging in my kitchen. This kicks in a response to play a curated series of a collection of news report podcasts (CBC, BBC World Service, PBS, NPR, and a few others are my choices), each one running between 5 and 10 minutes. I don't listen to these every day - perhaps once or twice a week at most - but I did this morning catch the CBC portion before I headed to work. The Lisa LaFlamme story was the #2 item - and they dedicated at least a minute and a half to the story - CBC Radio 'World Report' would seem to be false advertising, to be kind. Generally, as with most things in Canada, much of the 'World Report' focuses on central Canada and national politics in the US, with rare exceptions. It is a sad commentary as to the state of the news business in Canada today. This is why I subscribe to The Line and other substack writers like Paul Wells and Terry Glavin - I feel like it's possible to actually have a better chance of getting a report on the world, or at least news outside central Canada.
Having said all the above, here I am, commenting on a piece by Kevin Newman on the Lisa LaFlamme story - which I repeat, is not a story to much of Canada's non-retired working population. My point in doing so is how remarkable it is, given the reality of the world we now live in, that it is a story at all. In ten years time, will the next Lisa LaFlamme warrant this much attention? I think it unlikely.
I wish Lisa (and Kevin) all the best in their future endeavours. Perhaps both can become regular contributers to The Line. I'd much rather read their own unflitered thoughts than see them interpret whatever media conglomorates editorial spin is during a telecast / broadcast.
I am appalled that a 58 year old women is so abruptly dismissed. I thought we had moved passed gender biases. And to further confirm their bias, she is being replaced by a younger man. This is misogyny at its worst. As much as it was CTV’s choice to do this brutish act, it is my choice, to do a much gentler act and never watch CTV again.
I see Kevin and the Line are examining their belly buttons again. I realize this is your industry and you probably all knew Ms. LaFlamme but for most, TV national news is a commercial package that gives 5 minutes of world news, 5 minutes of Canadian news and the rest spent on BIPOC/LQBTQT2IA stories with a pinch of feel good at the end. Every time I watch its this same formula. They put a question to someone with no credentials or show "demonstrations" with 10's of participants. What crap.
I feel for anyone losing their job, including Ms LaFlame though I feel she'll be better off than so many others who've lost jobs in the last few years.
I feel for LaFlamme but is anyone still watching nightly news casts? This is just another nail in the coffin for the kind of media that relies on 2 second sound bites and a lack of good, objective, contextual journalism. LaFlamme, like Wendy Mesley, is probably better for getting out before it gets real bad.
A number of years ago, a legacy company in my backyard was bought out by corporate entity from another Province. One Thursday morning the workforce was gathered and told that structural changes in the administration were taking place. NOW. The unlucky ones who weren’t spared from the purge were escorted to their desks to clear out their possessions and out the door they went. They are reminders that workers are line items on a spreadsheet, and so is Lisa LaFlamme. Dedicated service, loyalty and competency are secondary to the cost efficiencies of doing business.
If set our idol worship aside for someone paid a hefty annual salary to read news items, LaFlamme will come out on the other side with independence to do podcasts, contribute to The Line or have her own Substack storefront. She will do ok. Let’s save our sympathy for the little people who get crushed by accounts and lawyers who don’t give a damn.
Modern MBA theory...employees are nothing. But perhaps more concerning than this nonsensical decision, is that it's another credible source of information gone, and with it, a large amount of credibility for CTV. The national hasn't recovered from the end of Knowlton Nash. Lisa's departure will drive more people to far less credible sources, and national ignorance will increase. It's almost like the "Stupid" they're trying to breed in the US is also coming to Canada. Ignorance is not bliss.
Sadly, I've too much experience "moving" inappropriate employees "on their way". However, the process is always fraught with mutual pain. The object is always to seek mutual respect.
This firing was inexcusably inept. No respect for LaFlamme. Significant loss of respect for CTV/Bell.
I do have some sympathy for how this was handled butI doubt the slanted liberal propaganda will subdue with Sachadina at the helm. CTV and CBC are digging their own graves with the hard far left garbage that is constantly spewed. Their own opinions seem to be the theme right now. Enough. We don’t watch state run propaganda and these shows are tanking.
I re-discovered newscasts when I went to over-the-air TV a few years ago; they do make a nice, quick summary of the top stories, and the often feel-good story to wind up the show is often needed after the horrors of the news.
Condolences to the team and their loss, but I gotta say, the "horror of the news" a bit over a year back was over 200 CTV news staff being laid off in a single swipe. They all had teams, too. Kenney handed the Alberta oilpatch billions, and they took it and laid off tens of thousands anyway.
A celebrity loss like this should be seen as emblematic, mentally multiplied by tens of thousands of people, who are all just lines on a spreadsheet to those who are the, um, gatekeepers to a steady paycheque.
One potential explanation for LaFlamme's dismissal could simply be trying to cut costs by bringing in a younger, cheaper replacement. Network and cable news are in grim shape with dwindling audiences. You only have to watch the ads they're carrying to realize that they're catering to an aging demographic that's less lucrative for advertisers. I can barely remember the last time I watched TV news - probably on the TV over the dentist's chair when I go in for a cleaning, or when I would visit my elderly father and he'd have the TV on in his study. I'm not a typical TV viewer - I cancelled my cable in 2011 and have never looked back - but I think it's a dying medium and corporations are just trying squeeze what revenue they can before it expires.
The bottom line is MSM is suffering and they keep changing their formats and personalities in an attempt to increase viewership. Most often these changes don't help. In today's world, few jobs have any security. I find TV news superficial as I need a deeper dive into the important topics, and I have no interest in the 'feel good' sound bites.
The back story to the LaFlamme dismissal is that CTV News wants to try news things and move in a different direction. In other words Omar doesn’t inherit a mantle of solid news ratings and a team of competent players who produce the product every night, but will get a chance to build on the successful format and do his own thing. That’s a risky proposition in such a fragmented media market.
When Peter Mansbridge left The National, any thinking person knew there was zero chance that he would be replaced by another older, bald white dude. CBC News decided to dump The National in Lake Ontario and rebrand it with a carousel of anchors working out of a barn. A billion dollar enterprise, but no budget for chairs and everyone has to stand up in front of giant screen TVs with the newest woke stories to put us to sleep. My CBC brand loyalty ended with the Mansbridge retirement and I have a funny feeling that CTV News will become a fading memory too.
Disappointing. I thought The Line was not going to be just another place where journalists exalt other journalists. My director friend worked in that same newsroom for Lloyd and Sandi, and then Lisa. He died two weeks ago after taking stress leave. There is a real story about what that newsroom has become, but journalists instead are writing obituary-like praise columns for someone who's 'great suffering" is an un-renewed contract. I'm sure she's socked away some of her exorbitant salary for a rainy day. Should any of us shed one tear about this?
Doubly disappointing is that a story that Frank Magazine has already documented is lost on the journalists working there! I'm not sure what that says about their journalistic prowess when the story is sitting right under their collective noses and all they can do is sigh about injustice to on-air talent.
I have every sympathy with Mr. Newman and Ms. LaFlamme in their skirmishes with unresponsive executives and villainous HR departments. But, "...at a time when trust in journalism is already ebbing??" Trust in journalism evaporated years ago, for far more substantive reasons than any considered in this article. The article describes accurately enough an experience all too common in many workplaces; but its sense of perspective (or lack thereof) makes you wonder anew just how hermetically sealed the silo is that corporate media personnel apparently live in. Are they allowed internet access? From the point of view of supposedly wronged "viewers," are the news anchors and their colleagues (the presumed good guys in this account) any less remote and input-averse than the executives?
Thank you Kevin for this insider view. Tbh, I had never heard of Melling. But now that I have, I kinda don’t like him. It will be quite awhile before I can watch Omar. Directive or not, his performance yesterday was douchey.
Lisa was a good reporter at one time. But over the years she became a diva who had to be everywhere a big story was happening, even when there were good reporters already on the scene. If the rumour about asking for a bigger budget are true, she may have just signed her own firing.