Though it’s been 14 days since Bell’s announcement that it was letting go of tenured journalist Lisa LaFlamme, backlash against the media giant for the out-of-left-field decision has not waned one bit — in fact, it seems to be growing stronger as more and more prominent figures add their voices to the ongoing discourse.
LaFlamme, who most recently in her 35 years with the brand served as CTV National News’s chief anchor and senior editor, made the revelation in a video posted to social media on August 15, the same day that her former employer issued a press release about her departure, which came as a shock to millions of viewers.
This was handles so terribly. Was it the first day on the job for literally EVERYONE in senior management?
— CJ Chewjore (@ChewJore) August 19, 2022
The company vaguely referred to the move a “business decision” based on “changing viewer habits,” leading many to call it and the industry out for ageism and sexism, with one popular theory being that the 58-year-old’s grey hair had something to do with it.
“At 58, I still thought I’d have a lot more time to tell more of the stories that impact our daily lives,” LaFlamme said in her two-minute-long missive, which has now been viewed more than 4.6 million times on her original post alone.
“I was blindsided and am still shocked and saddened by Bell Media’s decision.”
Bell executives rightfully. continue to take heat from the public and insiders alike for not only ending LaFlamme’s contract but also the way they they did it and how they’ve handled the outcry, most recently from a group of famous Canadians who took out an ad in the Globe & Mail this weekend to pen an open letter on the subject.
“Bell, what is your plan?…What will you do not just for Lisa but for us all.” I joined many others in signing this open letter in @globeandmail to Bell Canada about @BellMediaPR‘s “business decision” to fire Lisa LaFlamme in prime of her career. Have a read & RT if you support. pic.twitter.com/RlrW0JoBAr
— Catherine McKenna (@cathmckenna) August 27, 2022
“In making their ‘business decision,’ Bell confirmed one sad truth: even after all the progress women have made, they continue to face sexism and ageism at work every day in a way which is unacceptable,” the group of more than 70 people wrote, noting that the only thing that recently changed in LaFlamme’s stellar career was the colour of her hair.
“We also believe that it is not the mistake that matters, but rather how we respond to that mistake. And this is where Bell has failed for a second time.”
By the end of the ad, the authors ask Bell’s board of directors and management point-blank: “What is your plan, what will you do to restore this trust and make this right? What will you do not just for Lisa but for us all?”
Among the signatures are singer Jann Arden, Indigo CEO Heather Reisman, various journalists and media personalities, novelists, human rights advocates and even a former prime minister.
— blogTO (@blogTO) August 25, 2022
Major brands like Wendy’s, Sports Illustrated and Dove have also jumped on the cause in recent days, while everyone from average viewers to the major names listed above continue to put pressure on Bell.
That pressure was apparently enough to cause the head of CTV News, Michael Melling, to go on leave this past Friday, though the reasoning is apparently “to take time with his family.” Sure.