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LAYOFFS AT GLOBAL: CANADIANS LOSE OUT ON VITAL JOURNALISM DURING COVID-19

Update: An earlier version of this press release stated that Global had laid off 70 journalists from across its operations. Global claims that number is incorrect but declined to say how many people were laid off.

TORONTO, July 23, 2020 /CNW/ - The Canadian Association of Journalists (CAJ) was dismayed to learn that multiple journalists, predominantly employed in Global News' digital operations, lost their jobs yesterday. 

The decision, according to a memo obtained by J-Source, largely eliminated Global's lifestyle, entertainment and social media teams. Global's daily news podcast Wait, There's More was also cancelled abruptly, with managers giving the team no opportunity to say goodbye to listeners. 

"It is gut wrenching to hear about yet another round of mass layoffs in Canadian media," said Brent Jolly, president of the CAJ. "While we recognize that the COVID-19 pandemic has created global economic instability, it is disheartening to see the jobs of talented journalists are repeatedly left on the cutting room floor." 

In an earlier statement issued on Thursday evening, the CAJ estimated, according to its sources, that 70 journalists were let go. Chris Sarpong, a Corus spokesperson, said that number was "incorrect" and "inflated significantly" but declined to say how many people had been laid off.  

The company plans to hire a number of journalists in "growing" areas of their business, said Sarpong. 

The company attributed the decision to "the collapse in advertising revenues brought on by COVID-19" and "a strategic shift away from the non-news genre toward our core mission of providing breaking news and fact-based journalism."

"In journalism, there is no beat better than the other. All provide critical information Canadians need to understand the world around them and hold power, at all levels of society, to account," said Jolly.  

The Global layoffs are the latest to hit the industry during the pandemic. By the end of April, nearly 50 outlets had permanently closed and 78 cut staff, resulting in 2,053 editorial and non-editorial workers losing their jobs. The latest numbers, which are maintained by the COVID-19 Media Impact Map for Canada, are even more concerning. 

The Global layoffs included many young journalists who were transforming Canada's journalism landscape at a time when the industry's lack of representation is in serious question. Corus, Global's parent company, recently launched a diversity review, spurred by concerns raised by entertainment reporters and more. The CAJ will be looking carefully, in the days ahead, to see whether any racialized journalists were disproportionately affected. 

"Any implication whatsoever that any group – let alone ones underrepresented within journalism (ex. women, women of colour) – were specifically targeted within our restructuring is patently false," said Sarpong. 

Global's memo, written by Troy Reeb, executive vice-president of broadcast networks, notes the company has "sought sector-specific relief to address inequities with foreign internet broadcasters who don't play by the same rules, and tech giants that redistribute our content without compensation." The CAJ will be exploring solutions to this problem, and looks forward to engaging with industry members on the issue. 

"Journalism has been deemed an 'essential service' during the pandemic," Jolly said. "From coverage of the crisis in long-term care homes, to the inequities faced by temporary foreign workers, journalism has proven its invaluable role." 

The CAJ is Canada's largest national professional organization for journalists from all media, representing more than 600 members across the country. The CAJ's primary roles are to provide high-quality professional development for its members and public-interest advocacy.

For further information:

Brent Jolly, CAJ president

[email protected]

289-387-3179

 

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