"Bad week for media. In the past 6 business days almost 100 people working in the Canadian media, including Radio, TV and Print have been fired. Thoughts for those who lost their gigs in any/all media in Canada … especially at this time of year."
— Marty Forbes on Twitter
It’s part of the media business. People come and people go. And if you’re lucky enough, you get to spend a career developing a very unique an intimate relationship with a city to call home. It’s truly a blessing. Add to that, in this day age where it’s a rarity to be able to build an entire career that encompasses not only years but decades, in a business like the media, whether that be newspaper, radio or television, you’re one of the lucky few.
That relationship can come to a traumatic end, when the person you read in the paper each day, tuned into the radio each morning, or tuned in for the dinner news, is no longer there. Just gone. That’s what happened last week to Manitoba’s own six o’clock news anchor, Gord Leclerc. Gord was taken off the air at CTV Winnipeg after almost 25 years at the station.
Now he’s certainly not the first person to work a quarter-century in the media business. And unfortunately, he’s also not the first person to leave unceremoniously. Initially no explanation was given for his sudden departure. And this was not an entry-level position. On TV, Gord’s position was high-profile and his absence noticeable immediately. After all, Gord had been at the TV station since 1995 and became the senior news anchor in 2002, yet his departure went largely unreported with the exception being this newspaper’s sister paper, the Winnipeg Free Press.
After tremendous response on social media, Bell Media (who operates two radio stations in Brandon and used to operate the television station) said in a statement they were "feeling the effects of rapid industry change. To ensure we remain competitive we are managing the impact on our bottom line."
Ouch. At least have a sendoff. At least allow the tens of thousands of viewers who tune in each night to say thanks and goodbye. That luxury was not afforded TV viewers in Manitoba.
Saturday night on Twitter, Gord released the following statement: "I am humbled and truly moved by your outpouring of love and support your kind words and well wishes have meant so much to both me and my family. It’s been my privilege to have been welcomed into your homes and lives over the years. I cannot thank you enough for entrusting me with your time. It’s also been an honour to work with so many charitable organizations that strive every day to make this city a better place. Thank you. You have my eternal gratitude."
Gord was someone who not only cared deeply about the local news product, but also cared deeply about community. He often donated his time to charities and organizations over the years, with one of the highest-profile events being the Manitoba Motorcycle Ride for Dad, where he was the celebrity team captain for years.
What I find especially interesting about this recent incident involving Gord Leclerc is not only is there a Brandon connection (because he graduated from Crocus Plains Regional Secondary School) and we share the same alma mater (both attended Western Academy Broadcasting College in Saskatoon), but the Brandon connection between Bell and this city and TV. This community is still recovering from the rug being pulled from underneath it, and now another slap in our face. But rest assured, while people in Winnipeg may tell us to "get with the times" after losing our TV station, I try to avoid sharing the rumours industry insiders are sharing with me.
Will CTV Winnipeg soon run its news operations out of Toronto? They wouldn’t be the first to do it. And while shareholders would win, viewers would lose. Local news will never die, but companies who can’t see the forest for the trees will be left to clean up the empties, throw out the pizza boxes and shut off the lights. Bell Media pulled TV from Brandon. How long before everything in all markets that aren’t Vancouver or Montreal, are simply run out of Toronto? Stay tuned.
In the meantime, here’s some local reaction to the news of Gord Leclerc’s departure last week.
• Ryan S. — Hey, CTV … can we trade Gord for Jess Allen?
• Shirley B. — Another reason to not bother watching CTV anymore.
• Cam F. — I wondered about that tonight. Wow!
• Marlene W. — Wow! Very sad news.
• Patricia H. — I am a lifetime Brandonite who moved to B.C. last year. When I want to watch the news now, I pretty much channel surf. And it was just the other day where I went from one region to the Winnipeg one and sighed in relief to see Gord. To me he was more "professional" and reminded me of home. Sad to hear.
• Shirley B. — Very unfortunate. It just won’t be the same without him.
• Ron A. — Do you really call it local news if it comes from another province?
• Dennis S. — Sorry to see this happening. Loved watching him, very professional.
• Karen P. — That is just terrible! Very classy guy. Always enjoyed watching him. I do wish him and his family the best for much better things to come.
• Susan C. — Wow! I’m shocked and saddened!
• Don S. — A phenomenal career that you can be extremely proud of Gord!
I never met Gord — we were friends on social media, but would exchange emails and DMs. He was always a class act, and now upon leaving TV, he once again proves he’s all class. Viewers, listeners and readers understand people move on. They understand people relocate or decide on a career change or are even fired, as was the case with Don Cherry recently.
What people don’t understand, is when personalities in the media, regardless of the platform, TV, radio or newspaper, spend a generation building brand for a company and a relationship with an audience is suddenly gone, without sendoff. Without fanfare. Without explanation. It’s just disrespectful. Then again, I’m not sure why we expect more from a company that walked one of its longest-serving personalities out the door, when that same company did it to an entire operation in this city. October 2009. Ten years now. It’s just sad. I just don’t get it.
JOKE THIS WEEK
A police officer calls the station to report in from his radio and says, "I have an interesting case here. An old lady shot her husband for stepping on the floor which she had just finished mopping."
The senior officer asked him if he had arrested her, to which he replied: "Not yet … the floor is still wet!"
Krista Andronick • Erick Gudbranson • Allison Drager