Lisa LaFlamme firing sends discouraging message to young journalists, experts say

Experts say Bell Media sent a discouraging message to young journalists, especially women, by ruthlessly terminating veteran news anchor Lisa LaFlamme’s contract.

And they say the decision to end his contract after 35 years at CTV National News is a sign that broadcast journalists can probably enjoy a career of only 20 to 30 years at best due to the changing nature of industry.

Nana Aba Duncan, associate professor and Carty Chair of Journalism, Diversity and Inclusion Studies at Carleton University, said the contract termination was done with a lack of care and fairness.

Duncan, who previously worked for CBC as the host of the Radio One show Podcast Playlist and Fresh air, said the lack of care was evident when LaFlamme had to say goodbye initially in a Twitter video and later in a press release, with his team finding out when they did, and when LaFlamme was told to be quiet until until the details are settled.

“I can say with certainty that there are even young reporters, women who are writers and producers at CTV, who are thinking, ‘Well, why am I here? Why am I working so hard if, after so long, someone we consider queen can be released so unceremoniously? “, Duncan said.

In a social media post on Monday, LaFlamme, 58, said she was “blindsided” by Bell Media’s decision to end her contract as news chief and editor of CTV National News. .

In two subsequent press releases, both issued on Monday, CTV said the decision to terminate LaFlamme’s contract was due to “changing viewing habits” and that national affairs correspondent Omar Sachedina, who joined network in 2009, will take LaFlamme’s place as anchor.

WATCH | LaFlamme revealed on Monday that CTV is terminating his contract:

CTV National News anchor Lisa LaFlamme announces she has been fired

LaFlamme said she was “blindsided” when Bell Media terminated her contract after more than 30 years.

Duncan said young journalists want to work for companies that show they care about people in general and would look after them as individual employees.

“It just doesn’t show that,” she said. “People see themselves in Omar and people see themselves in Lisa. People are watching.”

Duncan said it was also a poor public relations decision on CTV’s part to announce LaFlamme’s firing and replacement in press releases the same day. She said her replacement didn’t have time to take over.

“It’s unfair everywhere,” she said. “You just did it wrong.”

Unceremonial dismissals are nothing new, editor says

Connie Thiessen, editor of Broadcast Dialogue, a trade publication on Canadian broadcast media, said unceremonious layoffs are nothing new in the industry, but the layoff is getting a lot of attention because of the fame of The flame.

“I think this is probably the first time in recent memory that we’ve seen someone as high-profile as Lisa preemptively quit her role,” Thiessen said.

Thiessen said she believed LaFlamme had a champion to get her into the national anchor role in the first place and lost that champion when Wendy Freeman stepped down as vice president of CTV News in December 2021. Freeman has replaced by Michael Melling in January 2022.

“It’s ultimately about returning to shareholders,” she added.

Thiessen said she believes the termination indicates a career in broadcast journalism will only have a lifespan of 20 to 30 years if a journalist is lucky.

“Certainly we are losing a generation of wisdom, knowledge and lived experience,” she said. “It’s an unfortunate way out for a journalist as old as Lisa LaFlamme.”

In an op-ed for Broadcast Dialogue, Thiessen wrote: “What’s new is the virtual certainty now that most journalists and other media professionals will be hired prematurely, shortening careers and, in the process, wisdom, the experience and insights gained that have historically been the guiding editorial lights in newsrooms around the world.”

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