CTV News executive who fired anchor Lisa LaFlamme is permanently replaced

CTV News chief Michael Melling, the man at the helm when national reporter Lisa LaFlamme was abruptly fired, was replaced permanently after a third-party newsroom review.

“We are pleased to announce that Richard Gray, Acting Vice President, News, has been assigned to this role on a permanent basis. Michael Melling has been reassigned to the position of vice president of shared services and will not return to CTV news operations, ”said a December 19 memo sent to staff by Rob Malcolmson, executive vice president and chief business officer. CTV Legal and Regulatory Affairs, and Nikki Moffat. , CHRO and Executive Vice President of Corporate Services.

Melling first took time off from work in August. He had only been vice president of the news division at CTV’s parent company, Bell Media, since January, about 8 months, when LaFlamme was fired.

After LaFlamme went public with the news of his abrupt and unexpected dismissal in a social network video postan internal memo said Melling was taking an immediate leave of absence from her role “to spend time with her family.”

The 58-year-old presenter said she was “blindsided and shocked” by the decision. LaFlamme had been the anchor for CTV National News since 2011 and worked for the network for 35 years. He had two years left on his contract.

Reporters at the time quoted a senior CTV official as saying that Melling fired the veteran television reporter because he had issues with LaFlamme’s hair.

Melling reportedly asked who “let Lisa’s hair turn gray.”

In 2020, LaFlamme stopped dyeing her hair, saying COVID lockdowns and closures made it difficult to see her hairdresser. She said keeping it colorful was too high maintenance.

Ageism allegations

“I finally said, ‘why bother? I’m going grey. Honestly, if I had known lockdown could be so freeing on that front, I would have done it a lot sooner,'” she said. declared in the network’s special of the year.

CTV, owned by Bell Media, called it a business decision.

Ontario lawyer Paul Champ wrote to Bell Media in late August on behalf of a “large number” of CTV reporters who alleged that LaFlamme’s firing was based “more on personal malice than on business reasons,” and feared that his age may have been a detrimental factor.

“Her firing appears to be a blatant act of revenge, tainted with ageism, sexism and misogyny by a male boss,” the letter reads.

The anonymous reporters said professional retaliation has been a significant risk since Melling took office earlier this year and morale was at an all-time low.

In a LinkedIn post, Mirko Bibic, president and CEO of Bell Canada, said complaints and “various allegations” had been made about Melling and that he would be on leave pending the outcome of a review of the workplace,” involving confidential interviews with all newsroom employees who choose to participate.

“The purpose of this review was to gather information about CTV National’s newsroom culture, environment and practices, with a view to identifying any issues, concerns or areas for improvement so that we can then work to resolve them,” according to an internal memo.

Campaigns in support

A week after LaFlamme was unceremoniously dropped from her role, Sports Illustrated responded with a black-and-white cover photo of Maye Musk, Elon Musk’s gray-haired mother, with the caption, “We’re going gray with Dove to support women aging with confidence.” on their own terms. We were so proud to feature @mayemusk on our May 22 swimsuit cover, living proof that beauty only gets better with age #KeepTheGrey.

Dove Canada has changed its logo to grey. On August 21, the company said“Age is beautiful. Women should be able to do it on their own terms, with no consequences. Dove donates $100,000 to Catalyst, a Canadian organization that helps create inclusive workplaces for all women Go gray with us, turn your profile picture into grayscale and #KeepTheGrey

A few days later, on August 25, Wendy’s Canada, a fast food chain, changed its logo of a girl in pigtails from red to Grey, with the phrase “Because a star is a star regardless of the color of his hair”. The channel used gold stars instead of the word “star” in the post.

Independent review

The independent review was carried out by labor lawyers Sarah Crossley and Laura Freitag, and concluded that the newsroom has “a culture where people are sometimes afraid to raise concerns for fear of reprisal or inaction”.

The internal memo says the review also revealed “a need for more civility and respect in the newsroom” and “a desire to improve working conditions.”

Bell Media told reporters there was strong participation from team members in the independent third-party newsroom review.

“We thank them for their willingness to participate and their candour. We are committed to the action plan shared with employees that aims to resolve the issues raised, and we look forward to working together to create a better, more inclusive and positive work environment,” said Bell.

LaFlamme received an Order of Canada medal on Nov. 3, complete with what became his signature, perfectly styled silver locks.

In September, LaFlamme was hired by CityNews to travel to London and serve as senior news correspondent following the death of Queen Elizabeth II.

The Canadian Press contributed to this report.

Marnie Catcart

Marnie Cathcart is an Edmonton-based journalist.

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