Women journalists have never had an easy career in television.
Lisa LaFlamme, anchor of the CTV National News, téléjournal, is the most recent to abruptly disappear from the screen for reasons that remain unclear. She’s probably not the last. In her case, as Radio-Canada did in that of Pascale Nadeau, the CTV network, owned by Bell Media, will sponsor an “independent” investigation to shed light on the reasons that prompted Karine Moses, vice-president of Bell Media, and Michael Melling, its vice-president of information, to end his contract two years before the expiry date.
Does it need to be a diviner to predict that there is little chance that the “investigators” will end up proving Lisa LaFlamme right? The firm that Radio-Canada had hired to “investigate” the departure of Pascale Nadeau favored management and produced a report that has not been made public. Pascale Nadeau herself could not read it. The case is now before the courts, Pascale Nadeau having started a lawsuit against her employer. Luce Julien, news director at Radio-Canada, can now invoke the sub justice to remain silent.
CAN MONEY BUY PEACE?
Will Lisa LaFlamme sue CTV? An important person from Bell Media, whose name I must not mention, confided to me that he was offered a substantial sum to end his contract. Will it be enough to buy peace? For the moment, the five million times (these are the latest figures) that the video in which she announces her departure has been viewed should reassure her of the attachment that the regulars of her television news had for her. Unfortunately, despite his popularity, his departure will probably have little impact on the viewing of the CTV National News. This is what the management of Bell Media must count on.
Women journalists have never had it easy on television. The French network of Radio-Canada gave them a more important place than the English network and than the private networks, paradoxically, they did not have an enviable fate.
STILL A WAY TO GO
I, who knew Judith Jasmin well and who accompanied her until her last breath, can affirm that her relations with Radio-Canada were always tense, especially when she was a correspondent in Washington. He was criticized for his independence of mind, not to say his “bad spirit”, a fashionable accusation in the societies and institutions of the time. Judith, who was almost always a freelancer, ended her days more than modestly.
This was also the fate of the excellent journalist and host Andréanne Lafond, with whom I worked on the show Crossroads. She too had an “evil spirit”, it was said. So we stopped using her services when she was in her fifties and still in full possession of her faculties. Even if Madeleine Poulin had brilliantly animated the magazine Point for a decade, Radio-Canada decided to get a makeover by replacing her with Jean-François Lépine. It was also to get a new look that Michèle Viroly was removed from the news to be assigned to RDI with the intention of having her present The major reports, an insignificant task. Louise Arcand was 40 years old when Radio-Canada abruptly dismissed her from the 6 p.m. newscast. She, too, was said to have a bad temper. This is what Radio-Canada must still think, condemned to pay him $400,000 for wrongful dismissal.
Despite condemnations and momentary outcry from viewers, women journalists are not yet treated the same as men on television.