Tag Archives: Jamie Orchard

Global Montreal repays Jamie Orchard’s decades of service by laying her off

Jamie Orchard at her desk in the Global Montreal studio

In 1997, as the Global Television Network was preparing to launch a new station in Quebec, it tapped a 31-year-old entertainment reporter for market leader CFCF to be one of its anchors. Jamie Orchard told the Montreal Gazette at the time that “it was one of those offers I couldn’t resist. Being part of a new station getting off the ground is rare opportunity and an unbelievable challenge.”

At first, she hosted an entertainment show on the local station. Then the morning show, another entertainment show, the late-night newscast, and since 2004 she has been the senior anchor and the face of the station and its local news.

Or had. On Thursday, Orchard announced that she had been laid off, one of apparently dozens of people across the country that Corus Entertainment has decided are no longer needed.

While it’s usually standard procedure in broadcast media to have on-air staff escorted out the door when they’re told they’re being dumped, and certainly never put in front of a live microphone again, Orchard was allowed to stay on for another month, keeping the news secret that whole time, and give an on-air goodbye. (It doesn’t look like Global posted it online.)

It’s a testament to the trust Orchard has built with the station, and its viewers, and station manager Karen Macdonald, who has also been with it since the beginning.

Orchard’s social media announcement sparked a lot of reaction, including a message from Montreal’s mayor and its former mayor.

The union, headed by veteran reporter Anne Leclair, also issued a statement saying “Jamie is an excellent journalist who always approached every subject with great professionalism. She is a model for ethical journalism. We are also losing an important voice and key connection between our newsroom and Montreal’s English-speaking community.” The statement notes that the station has lost 10% of its newsroom permanent staff this summer, not including Orchard.

Naturally, the news angered Global Montreal’s viewers. Not that it has too many of them, falling well behind CTV Montreal in audience for its entire existence.

Its small audience may be loyal, but their threats to change the channel won’t matter. Local news is a money loser for Global in eastern Canada, and cutting costs has more of an effect on the bottom line than feeding that loyalty.

My reaction to this news isn’t so much anger as it is disappointment. Global seemed to be headed in the right direction. After years of cutting to the bone and centralizing the tasks of news production, there seemed to be an air of renewal, with new staff being hired and a new focus on online reporting as the future of journalism. But this summer, facing a budget crunch caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, Global backtracked and laid off that young, diverse workforce it had just hired.

Since I first visited Global Montreal and met Orchard more than a decade ago, I was left with the impression that the small station with limited resources had one special thing going for it: its staff was close, like a family. That’s why, I was told at the time, staff turnover was so low.

It’s why Orchard said she would stay as the station’s anchor for as long as it would have her. It’s why she was allowed to say goodbye on air, because she could be trusted with that.

It’s unfortunate that, 23 years later, Corus Entertainment couldn’t be nearly as loyal to Orchard as she was to her employer.

UPDATE (Sept. 22): Rather than hire a new anchor, Global has decided to have Montreal’s local evening newscast anchored out of Toronto.

Global Montreal begins outsourcing weekend newscasts tonight

A plan to have local newscasts on Global Montreal anchored out of Toronto begins tonight, Shaw Media has confirmed.

The change means that we won’t see usual weekend anchor Peter Anthony Holder on the air tonight, but the company says the timing isn’t related to recent controversy surrounding him.

Holder was criticized by Bloc Québécois candidate Catherine Fournier for retweeting this tweet last week, and replying that he agreed and thought it was funny. That led to several news stories about it, and Holder deleted his tweets and apologized.

Shaw Media wouldn’t comment on Holder, and Holder himself did not respond to a request for comment (both he and the station have ignored or refused requests for comment since the beginning), but the rumour is that Holder won’t be returning to the station in any role, even as occasional fill-in anchor or reporter.

Despite being the main weekend news anchor, Holder was technically considered a freelancer, which means the company doesn’t have to justify firing him.

The outsourced newscasts, in which a Toronto anchor does local news for all markets except Vancouver, Edmonton and Calgary, will be hosted by Kris Reyes, who had been part of the national Morning Show at 9am weekdays.

Shaw Media reiterates that this change is meant to “allow for more local news gathering in the field” and it’s an “innovative way to deliver quality programming with more local news to viewers.”

We’ll see.

The 11pm weeknight newscast is also being similarly outsourced (insourced? Whatever.) But that starts in early September. The original plan had been a one-hour newscast, but after Global picked up the rights to the Late Show with Stephen Colbert, that was shortened to 35 minutes to allow for simulcasting with CBS.


Noon newscast to start Aug. 27, hosted by Jamie Orchard

Another previously announced change, the addition of a half-hour noon newscast, has a start date. Global News at noon starts Aug. 27, and Jamie Orchard, who does the 6pm newscast (soon to become the 5:30pm newscast) will be the anchor.

Eventually, anyway. She’s on vacation for the first two weeks of the show, so Elysia Bryan-Baynes and Camille Ross will share anchor duties for those weeks. (After that, Bryan-Baynes returns to 11pm for just two nights. Her last late newscast is Sept. 4.)

New hires

  • Kelly Greig, the former Sportsnet Central Montreal reporter recently hired as a videojournalist at Global, is joining the morning show. She starts on Monday. A news reporter is something the morning show really needs, especially since the launch of Breakfast Television on City, which has had a live in-the-field reporter since the beginning.
  • Brian Daly, a former CTV Montreal staffer who joined QMI Agency and the Sun News Network until that went belly-up, has been hired as the new lineup editor, and will help in the production of the noon newscast. He started Aug. 4.


Notebook from Global Montreal

Jamie Orchard at her desk in the Global Montreal studio

Saturday in The Gazette, I profile Global Montreal (CKMI), the station with Montreal’s third most popular local English-language TV newscast. With that piece is another about ratings for the local newscasts. Despite the generous space devoted to the stories in the paper, there’s plenty of detail I gathered over the past few weeks that didn’t end up in the story. Most is probably only of interest to people who really care about such things anyway.

So as a bonus for my blog readers, some things from my notebook and some meta-discussion about the story:

Global bashing

I have, in the past, been accused of bashing the local Global station, particularly by people who follow me on Twitter.

It’s true. I often use Twitter in particular to point out the errors of others. Not so much out of maliciousness, but out of interest. … Okay, sometimes out of maliciousness. But only when it really deserves it.

But I don’t have any particular beef with Global. I’m an equal-opportunity critic (except maybe when it comes to my employer). I’ve been accused of having crushes on the people I profile and having hate-ons for those I criticize. But my goal is to make everyone better, by recognizing hard work and making sure mistakes don’t go by unnoticed.

I first visited Global Montreal in the summer of 2009, shortly after it moved in to its new offices on the seventh floor of the Dorchester Square building that also houses The Gazette. Global is on the seventh floor (which was once used by The Gazette), The Gazette is on the second and third. The two were under common ownership at the time, and they invited us to a special open house. I went with my camera and had a look around.

I thought I would be incognito, and I was. (My blog was less than half the age it is now.) But near the end Jamie Orchard spotted me and engaged me in conversation, explaining the hard work she and her team do to put together a daily newscast. The things I had said about the station previously on my blog, about its plan to outsource local news production and use fake sets inserted via chroma key, weren’t particularly flattering. Not that it’s easy to sugarcoat when an organization fires three quarters of its staff.

What struck me about our conversation was that they didn’t think I understood the work they do on the daily basis, or might have thought I was blaming them for the quality of their newscast.

I don’t think Global offers Montreal’s best newscast, as the ads say. But that’s not the fault of the staff. The reporters are of high quality, and Orchard is a good anchor. Even Bill Haugland and a staff of Brian Britts couldn’t make a top-notch newscast with such few resources. My criticisms are directed at Global and its owners, who want to spend the bare minimum (I would argue less than that) on local programming so it doesn’t cut too much into the lazy profit it makes from rebroadcasting House, Family Guy and other popular American shows.

Considering the blog post I wrote after my last visit, I wasn’t sure if they’d agree to another one, this one to do a formal profile for The Gazette. I wanted to write something about them because of all the attention paid to their competitors recently, with CFCF getting its new studio and anchor, and CBMT announcing the coming arrival of weekend newscasts.

Global Montreal station manager Karen Macdonald

But Karen Macdonald, CKMI’s station manager, eagerly agreed, and in February I sat down with her in her little corner office for an hour to talk about stuff. After that, I was invited into the tiny studio (it’s about the size of two apartment bedrooms) to witness the broadcast of the half-hour evening news program live, with Jamie Orchard in the anchor chair.

It was a while until I could get the story done, partly because I had to track down a few people to interview, and partly because I had my actual job to do quite a bit.

Reaction to the published story has been positive so far. Jamie Orchard and Anne Leclair seem to think it’s positive, but I was more flattered when the latter referred to it as “accurate”. My goal was to give people a picture of what goes on there, and both sides of the argument about outsourcing production jobs.

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Inside Global’s CKMI-46

The CKMI studio features an anchor's desk, a chair and a lot of green wall

The CKMI studio features an anchor's desk, a chair and a lot of green wall

Earlier this month, staff at The Gazette got an invitation from our new neighbours: Global TV. In order to save money (and face the reality of a declining staff), The Gazette reduced its footprint at 1010 Ste. Catherine St. W. and moved its marketing and reader service departments. Canwest in turn moved Global Quebec from its previous home at the TVA building at 1600 de Maisonneuve Blvd. E. into the vacated space.

I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to attend an open house for a TV station (I went to CFCF’s open house in May and I saw CBC’s Montreal studios when I was an intern there in 2004), so I went downtown on my day off and brought my camera with me.

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The McKibbin’s kinda-non-story

I should give fair play to Jamie Orchard. My last post about her blog was unflattering. But her latest post, about the whole McKibbin’s language-police debacle, is much more interesting:

The OLF insists that all the owner has to do is write back and explain that the signs are artifacts. In fact, when the OLF saw our TV footage of the signs, they said right away the case could be solved easily – here’s the quote from Gerald Paquette:

There are many Irish pubs in Quebec that have these kinds of artifacts and they have all asked for an exception.”

We told this to the owner of the pub on Thursday, and he seemed relieved. But then, on Friday, the co-owner of the pub was on talk radio insisting that he would have to go to court to fight this, making a big show of inviting the premier to his pub to look at the signs, insisting he would refuse to pay the fine. He was getting all the sympathy in the world from the host, from the callers, from everyone, and never once did he mention it could all be solved with a simple letter.

I like this post (especially compared to the previous one) for two reasons:

  1. It’s a simple, rational, thought-out opinion rather than an uninformed reactionary “stupid OLF” rant
  2. It brings some new information to the table (Global’s conversation with the bar’s owner) that is perfectly placed in a journalist’s blog.

I’m not going to leave the OLF (actually the OQLF) off the hook entirely, since they did, in fact, bring up these signs in their complaint (which was from a customer who said he wasn’t served in French and an outdoor menu was in English only).

But it’s clear the media (and I have to include myself here, since I edited the big article in Friday’s Gazette about it) played up the signs and outrage campaign while burying the other complaints and the comments from the OQLF that they could easily get an exemption. (Second-day stories are pointing these things out, but that wouldn’t have been necessary if they weren’t buried in the first place.)

And McKibbin’s owners are clearly using this as an excuse to launch an anti-OQLF publicity campaign to boost anglo business and line their pockets with outrage money (or just get their name in the news). They’ve already got a Facebook group. And another. And another. And another. And another.

Elsewhere in the blogosphere:

UPDATE (Feb. 27): A video on YouTube shows the original letter from the OQLF to McKibbin’s, which clearly is much more about the posters than the office later suggested to reporters. Also plenty of discussion on some franco forums.

Jamie Orchard takes the bus

Global Quebec likes to run the occasional 5-second ad for anchor Jamie Orchard’s blog. I find this odd, because she updates it about once a month, which hardly makes it qualify as a blog, much less make it advertising-worthy.

Today, she added her first new post since Dec. 4, complaining about bus service on the island. It’s an example of what not to do with blogs.

Let me explain:

  1. It’s a subject that anyone can write about. In fact, as evidenced by two letters she cuts-and-pastes into the blog post, anyone has written about it. Orchard’s experience having buses show up late and not wanting to bike in the winter are not unique and she provides no unique insight into them. Journalists’ blogs should provide new information if not personal insight. They shouldn’t repeat what everyone else is saying.
  2. It’s blowhardism instead of journalism. Instead of explaining that delays are a result of a bus shortage, she rants about how “Montreal must do more” for public transit. Such comments make us feel good but are completely devoid of meaning.

There are other minor things like the horrible formatting, but those two are the most important.

Mainstream media outlets are clueless about this blog thing and are just throwing stuff out there to see what sticks. Unfortunately, that leaves us with a lot of junk. I don’t want my journalists to sound just like those uninformed idiots on MySpace. I want something new and interesting. The faster journalist-bloggers (and the media companies who don’t want to pay them a cent to do this extra work) understand that, the faster we’ll see blogs that are worth our attention.

And while I sympathize with people whose buses arrive late, I don’t think exaggeration is warranted here. This isn’t some third-world country. The vast majority of buses do arrive on time and take people to their destination without incident.

I lived for five years in the West Island taking a bus every day downtown to study. Up to three hours of transit time each day. Sometimes buses wouldn’t show up, and I’d be left out in the cold for up to an hour. But even when I got frustrated, I never condemned the entire system like others have. I moved closer to the city, next to a metro station where I don’t have to worry about catching a bus to get downtown.

Yes, Montreal (and Quebec, and the unions, and STM management and everyone else) should do more to ensure quality public transit. But Montrealers need to be a bit more tolerant toward small disruptions in service. Montreal’s transit network is among the most reliable in the world, and I think we’ve taken that for granted.