Is it possible that Lisa LaFlamme’s decision to go grey actually played a role, however minor, in her dismissal as CTV’s top news anchor?
There’s so much buzz still about L’affair LaFlamme it defies the modern notion of 24-hour news cycles. Social media keeps on spinning tales of what may have motivated network executives to replace their award-winning, No. 1-rated news personality.
As always, having half the story or less hasn’t slowed the speculation. LaFlamme’s Twitter bombshell earlier this week, where she said she was blindsided and had to keep a lid on her own termination, was a dramatic fuse lighter.
Apparently there was a meeting Thursday at the CTV News studios in Toronto, where vice president of news Michael Milling and Karine Moses, Bell’s Quebec media president, faced an angry room full of shaken staffers. There, according to a Canadaland report, they insisted that the fallout from the firing was, “filled with false narratives.”
Canadaland claims a recorded audiotape of the meeting was smuggled out and they even print a transcript. They also claim that the executive producer of the news team, Rosa Hwang, and long-time weekend anchor Sandie Rinaldo, were at the meeting, asking very direct questions.
Ye gads. I’ve been a foot soldier in a few of those “this is strictly between us” corporate mia culpa meetings but never in the age of leaky social media. This stuff rarely flows uphill. They should just show “King Kong vs. Godzilla” weeknights at 11 p.m. on CTV to approximate what is really going on in the newsroom.
The optics are abysmal. I was on a radio show Friday morning — albeit not a Bell-owned radio station — where host Scott Radley compared how all this was handled to how notorious Toronto Maple Leafs owner Harold Ballard once fired, and then re-instated– coach Roger Nielsen in the ’70s — but wanted him to return to the bench with a bag on his head.
Poor Omar Sachedina. It’s like finding out you’re made the big time — as Will Smith’s agent.
Among the alleged revelations coming out of that meeting are reports that LaFlamme’s hair colour was a hot topic. Now, trust me, these grooming matters are discussed at the top levels of television. When Keri Russell shed her curls on Felicity a decade or so ago, it torpedoed that series. Change is especially handled with kid gloves in TV news presentations. And, yes, ageism is a thing in a medium where the most-coveted demo to advertisers is still 18-49-year-olds, or, tops, 25 to 54.
It is no secret, however, that broadcast network newscasts are watched by older viewers. The ad breaks are as stuffed with wall-to-wall, try-to-stay-alive-with-this medications as the arteries of most of the viewers. Why do you think all those “side effects may kill you” warnings are in such extremely small print?
Therefore, if you abruptly yank the very professional lady with the shiny silver hair off the nation’s favourite newscast, don’t be surprised that you have pissed off the core viewers in their sixties and up who regularly watch your show.