There will be no bittersweet on-air goodbye for (now previous) CTV national news anchor Lisa LaFlamme, no ceremonial passing of the baton to the upcoming era, no broadcast retrospectives lionizing a journalist with a storied and award-winning job. As LaFlamme announced yesterday, CTV’s father or mother company, Bell Media, has resolved to unilaterally conclude her deal. (See also the CBC’s reporting of the story here.)
Whilst LaFlamme herself does not make this assert, there was of training course rapid speculation that the network’s determination has one thing to do with the point that LaFlamme is a female of a specified age. LaFlamme is 58, which by Tv set specifications is not exactly youthful — except when you compare it to the age at which popular males who proceeded her have left their respective anchor’s chairs: contemplate Peter Mansbridge (who was 69), and Lloyd Robertson (who was 77).
But an even extra sinister theory is now afoot: fairly than mere, shallow misogyny, proof has arisen of not just sexism, but sexism conjoined with corporate interference in newscasting. Two evils for the price of a person! LaFlamme was fired, suggests journalist Jesse Brown, “because she pushed back towards a person Bell Media executive.” Brown studies insiders as proclaiming that Michael Melling, vice president of news at Bell Media, has bumped heads with LaFlamme a variety of occasions, and has a record of interfering with information protection. Brown even more studies that “Melling has persistently shown a absence of regard for gals in senior roles in the newsroom.”
Useless to say, even if a personal grudge additionally sexism make clear what’s heading on, listed here, it however will look to most as a “foolish selection,” one confident to trigger the corporation headaches. Now, I make it a plan not to question the enterprise savvy of professional executives in industries I really do not know very well. And I recommend my students not to leap to the summary that “that was a dumb decision” just because it is one particular they don’t comprehend. But nevertheless, in 2022, it’s difficult to visualize that the company (or Melling more particularly) didn’t see that there would be blowback in this case. It is one detail to have disagreements, but it’s a different to unceremoniously dump a beloved and award-profitable lady anchor. And it is strange that a senior government at a news corporation would believe that the truth of the matter would not arrive out, supplied that, just after all, he’s surrounded by people whose job, and personal dedication, is to report the news.
And it’s hard not to suspect that this a less than joyful transition for LaFlamme’s alternative, Omar Sachedina. Of system, I’m certain he’s satisfied to get the task. But whilst Bell Media’s press launch quotations Sachedina indicating sleek factors about LaFlamme, definitely he didn’t want to assume the anchor chair amidst prevalent criticism of the changeover. He’s taking on the purpose below a shadow. Maybe the prize is truly worth the price tag, but it is also challenging not to think about that Sachedina had (or now has) some pull, some ability to influence that way of the changeover. I’m not saying (as some undoubtedly will) that — as an insider who is familiar with the serious story — he should have declined the career as ill-gotten gains. But at the quite the very least, it appears to be honest to argue that he should really have applied his impact to condition the transition. And if the now-senior anchor doesn’t have that kind of influence, we really should be fearful in fact about the independence of that purpose, and of that newsroom.
A final, similar observe about authority and governance in elaborate corporations. In any fairly perfectly-ruled corporation, the selection to axe a major, public-going through expertise like LaFlamme would require indication-off — or at minimum tacit approval — from additional than one particular senior executive. This suggests that a person of two points is correct. Either Bell Media isn’t that variety of nicely-governed organization, or a significant selection of people today were being associated in, and culpable of, unceremoniously dumping an award-profitable journalist. Which is even worse?