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Cornies: Let's get all media harassment cases on the record – London Free Press (Blogs)



Maybe it’s because I’ve heard too many female colleagues speak about these incidents. Or maybe it’s because I’ve taught aspiring female journalists for more than 30 years. Or maybe it’s just the dad in me, always concerned for the safety of a career-minded daughter.

Whatever the reason, a streetside incident involving CTV Kitchener reporter Krista Sharpe has left me angry and exasperated, even now, weeks later.

Sharpe was shooting a “standup” (the part of a story in which the reporter speaks to the camera) when a passing motorist in a white subcompact yelled a vulgar phrase at her. The phrase that began as a crude internet meme about seven years ago. The one that eggs on a sexual assault.

Sharpe posted a 14-second clip of the incident to her Twitter account. In it, she begins her standup, the vehicle goes by and the insult is hurled. And then Sharpe’s face says it all: Her day comes crashing down inside her as she valiantly tries to maintain a professional demeanour.

Within 24 hours, the clip had been viewed more than three million times.

“This is not funny and it’s not cool. As much as I’d love to say it doesn’t bother me, it does,” Sharpe wrote alongside the video. “It makes me feel like s–t. Especially as a (video journalist) who is always alone.”

For years, similar cases have been publicized in Canadian cities large and small. What’s less well understood among news consumers is the sheer pervasiveness of such threats and obscenities, as well as their lingering effects.

“It stays with you for a long time,” a veteran London TV journalist told me this week, as she recounted similar incidents spanning more than two decades. “We cover hard news all the time — accidents, tragedies — but nothing really prepares you for this . . . There are so many emotions, from anger to fear to sadness . . . You’re so proud of the work you do and then it’s belittled. The first time it happens, you realize the world isn’t what you thought it was.”

Within oneself, “there is an attitude of ‘carry on and do the job.’ Women often put themselves second,” she said.

(Disclosure: None of the women with whom I spoke for this column is employed by The London Free Press. No doubt they have similar stories to tell.)

A senior manager at a different London news outlet said such threats have become more common in the age of Trumpian disdain for news media. The attacks now come at young men as well as young women. And there’s been an uptick since the start of the pandemic: “We’re experiencing people’s anger and they’re lashing out more.”

“It’s also become more insidious,” she said. “Texts and emails go directly to inboxes, Twitter feeds . . . there are lots of threats that are never broadcast or made public,” she said. Often, reporters and writers simply grieve in private.

Another journalist — a Fanshawe College’s broadcast journalism graduate currently employed in radio — spoke about the safety risks of working in settings where female journalists are live at news or community events. Like Sharpe, they often work alone, exposed to the taunts, catcalls and jeers of passersby.

“It was the worst when I worked at The Weather Network,” she said. Her image on the small screen was all the invitation some viewers needed to deride and torment her through Twitter and Facebook.

One reader who scrolled through Sharpe’s post and responses to it was Waterloo Regional police Chief Bryan Larkin. He launched an investigation, inviting people to provide video and other digital evidence via the police service’s website.

Cherri Greeno, the service’s corporate communications manager, advised this week that attempts to locate the vehicle and driver in Sharpe’s case are continuing.

When I asked how many times, in recent memory, Waterloo Region police had received complaints from news media or journalists about similar occurrences, she replied there had been none.

When I posed a similar question to Const. Sandasha Bough, London police’s media officer, she said she could not recall any complaints by members of the news media over the last five years.

Sharpe had it exactly right: It’s not funny and it’s not cool. Men, we need to call out this behaviour each and every time it happens. Full stop. It’s workplace harassment. It’s a threat. And it’s a crime.

And to news organizations: Yes, we rely on citizens to speak to us and we want to minimize the risks they feel while indulging us. And yes, we’re reluctant to make the news, rather than report it.

But we need to up our game when it comes to reporting incidents to police. That part of their spreadsheets shouldn’t have a big zero beside it, as our employees, colleagues and friends endure humiliation and criminal threats that leave deep-seated marks.

Sure, it’ll be nearly impossible to get charges or convictions. But let’s stop dealing with these occurrences as mere personnel issues. Let’s get them on the record. Solving any problem first requires measuring it.

Larry Cornies is a London-based journalist and journalism educator.

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A ‘safe space for racists’: antisemitism report criticises social media giants – The Guardian



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A ‘safe space for racists’: antisemitism report criticises social media giants  The Guardian

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Former Winnipeg Jets forward Mathieu Perreault first media availability with the Habs – Illegal Curve Hockey



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After seven years in Winnipeg forward Mathieu Perreault is returning to his home province to play for the Habs. He spoke today in his first media availability as a member of the Montreal Canadiens.

He played a total of 455 games during his time in Manitoba with the Jets (including his 600th in the NHL) compiling 88 goals and 142 assists playing up and down the lineup. Of course his most famous game might have been his four goal night where he could have scored a fifth goal and won one lucky Manitoban (Gail McDonald from Brandon) one million dollars. Gail still ended up with $100,000.00 so not exactly a bad night for her as well as a “sorry Gail” response from Perreault when he found out which was a rather classic Perreault type response.

For those curious about the language in the media availability:

First seven minutes are questions in French
then next four are in English
then it returns to French until about the 13 minute mark
and from 16 minutes till the end it is in French.

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Rugby Canada fires Cudmore over social media posts – BradfordToday



Rugby Canada fired Jamie Cudmore, a former star player in charge of developing the next generation of talent, on Friday for a series of social media posts belittling the women’s sevens team.

His posts took aim at the sevens squad for its disappointing performance at the Tokyo Olympics.

Much had been expected of the Canadian women in Tokyo, given their performance in Rio and the fact they were tied with Australia on points for second in the World Rugby Sevens Series standings when the pandemic shut down the season last year.

But the Canadian women lost to Fiji and France after beating Brazil to miss out on the quarterfinals. They finished ninth after defeating Kenya 24-10.

Cudmore, an enforcer in the rugby field during his playing days, served as an assistant coach with the Canadian men’s 15s team and ran Rugby Canada’s national development academy.

The fact that the comments came from within has added to a year of turmoil for the governing body and the sevens women, who launched a formal complaint in January under Rugby Canada’s bullying and harassment policy.

Cudmore apologized for the posts but was relieved of his duties soon after. Rugby Canada called the posts “unacceptable and in breach of organization policy.”

“It was an emotional event for a good friend and I let that get the better of me,” Cudmore said on Twitter. “I’ve always played/coached with my heart on my sleeve for this great country. I’m sorry if I’ve offended anyone.”

The good friend is former sevens coach John Tait.

In the wake of the complaint filed by 37 current and former team members, an independent review concluded that while the conduct described in the complaint reflected the experiences of the athletes, it did not fall within Rugby Canada’s policy’s definition of harassment or bullying.

Tait, while maintaining he had done nothing wrong, subsequently stepped down. 

A former Canadian international, Tait was one of Rugby Canada’s most successful coaches, leading the sevens team to the bronze medal at the Rio Olympics. 

The controversy has divided Rugby Canada, with most of Tait’s staff leaving.

It appears Cudmore could not resist taking a shot at the women given their Olympic performance under interim coach Mick Byrne.

“Karma is a bitch! #Survivorsmyass,” read a since-deleted Cudmore tweet.

“Rugby Canada stands with our women’s 7s athletes,” the governing body said in its initial response on social media. “We support the team in their efforts both on and off the rugby pitch and are proud of the way they have represented our country. Rugby Canada is aware of recent social media comments made about the team and worked to ensure they were removed as quickly as possible.

“Our organizational values include solidarity and respect, and everyone on our staff is expected to help create an inclusive environment for all. We condemn any inappropriate comments directed at the team and our leadership will be meeting to address this matter immediately.”

Rugby Canada upped the ante hours later, relieving Cudmore of his duties. CEO Allen Vansen said in a series of tweets that the organization had concluded “that immediate action must be taken.”

“Rugby Canada’s core values, including integrity and respect, must be exemplified in all our rugby programs and we are determined to promote a healthy, inclusive culture now and in future,” Rugby Canada board chair Sally Dennis said in the statement.

Cudmore won 43 caps for Canada, playing in both the 2003 and 2007 World Cups. The six-foot-five 257-pound lock forward is one of Canada’s most famous exports — a hard man on the rugby pitch who was no stranger to suspensions for taking matters into his own hands on the field.

Several of Cudmore’s deleted tweets were captured and posted by sevens player Charity Williams. 

“I wanted to take this moment to talk about our performance and how proud I am of this team beyond any result,” Williams wrote on Instagram. “Because I am, and what we accomplished this year is far greater than one weekend. What this team stands for and who we have become means that young female athletes across Canada can play their sport and feel safe. I’m proud of that. 

“But instead I have to sit here once again and share what we’ve been going through as a team. The consistent hatred we have received from people in our own organization. I’m only sharing because this is what we have been dealing with for months. From private texts, to public stalking online and in person. The bullying and harassment that we have received for coming forward is outrageous and scary at times. This is the reason we called for an internal investigation because we haven’t been safe.”

In the wake of that probe, the players said they had been let down by Rugby Canada’s harassment and bullying policy — which has since been updated and replaced.

Rugby Canada says it plans a “detailed, independent review of all performance rugby programs starting next month with a goal of positioning teams for success in supportive, inclusive environments.”

Captain Ghislaine Landry also took to social media from Tokyo.

“We always knew this was about more than rugby, about more than one tournament, even if it’s the Olympics. We knew the last nine months might put our Olympic dream in jeopardy, we had that discussion as a group, and still the decision was clear. We were ready to put our dreams at risk for change.

“This has not been a distraction but it has taken a toll on us. And so, while we are heartbroken not to have been able to play our best, we are proud and united.”

In a statement released April 28, the players said their complaint “explained the psychological abuse, harassment and/or bullying these athletes feel they were subjected to in the centralized training environment.”

Follow @NeilMDavidson on Twitter

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 30, 2021.

Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press

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