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Liberal hopeful Freeland, middle class champion, oversaw loss of media jobs


 

OTTAWA – A high-profile federal Liberal candidate campaigning in Toronto on a platform of restoring the middle class oversaw the decision to move two dozen full-time media jobs from that city to India.

Chrystia Freeland was the head of Reuters Digital in New York when Thompson Reuters moved its Toronto digital newsroom to New York and shipped the bulk of its work to the Bangalore operation.

The December 2011 move put about 25 Toronto staff under Freeland’s supervision out of work, including 17 permanent and five temporary unionized employees. Thomson Reuters won’t say how many employees remain — only that the company has “a fully staffed and functioning newsroom in Toronto.”

“Ever since I’ve been an editor at different news organizations, legacy newsrooms have been shrinking, and that was something that happened as well when I was at Reuters,” Freeland said in an interview.

“That shrinkage started before I got there and has continued (since she left). We know that is something that’s happening to the news business.”

Now Freeland is a star Liberal candidate campaigning for a seat in the House of Commons in Toronto Centre, one of four federal byelections to be decided by voters on Nov. 25.

And a big part of her campaign pitch is the restoration of Canada’s economic middle class.

She’s facing off for Bob Rae’s vacated seat against another powerhouse journalist who champions the middle class, NDP candidate Linda McQuaig.

“Liberals know that if we don’t address this growing anxiety today, Canadians will stop supporting a growth agenda — a threat to a core Canadian ideal that prosperity is a realistic goal for all Canadians,” states Freeland’s campaign web site, under the heading “The Liberal Middle Class Priority.”

“The time for investing in a thriving middle class is now — make your voice heard in Ottawa.”

The seeming disconnect between Freeland’s recent corporate role and her campaign message has a number of her former employees seething.

Multiple sources from the defunct Toronto digital operation spoke to The Canadian Press, but few wanted to comment on the record for fear that criticizing the well-connected Freeland could hurt their employment prospects in a shrinking media industry.

A common refrain from former Reuters employees is a sense that Freeland didn’t go to bat for them when their jobs were on the line.

Aviva West spent three years as a full-time, contract editor who worked every weekend at the Toronto operation.

“We had zero contact with (Freeland),” said West.

“She was in charge of consumer news, and that’s what we were doing in Toronto, programming 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, Reuters.com. We never, ever saw her.”

“We wanted to show her what we did because we worked really hard on this site, we loved our jobs and we wanted to show her the value that we added to the company,” said West. “But we never got that chance.”

Said another former editor, who requested anonymity to protect her future employment prospects, “Campaigning for the middle class is just so hypocritical.”

Whether Freeland should wear the scars of an industry-wide downturn will be a matter of debate.

“I can confirm that the decision was not Chrystia Freeland’s,” Barb Burg, Reuters global head of communications, said in an email.

“It was a corporate one that resulted from extensive financial review and changing customer needs.”

A senior source with knowledge of the decision-making process put it this way: “It was a corporate decision that she executed.”

Freeland published a book last year, “Plutocrats: The Rise of the New Global Super-Rich and the Fall of Everyone Else.” When asked if the Reuters experience influenced her writing, she said it did.

“I have sometimes compared journalists to Detroit autoworkers,” Freeland responded.

“In the same way that Windsor autoworkers were in the centre of the downsizing of manufacturing, I think we as journalists have been in the centre of this creative destruction, the technology revolution….

“Definitely, seeing that has made me particularly sensitive to the ways the technology revolution has been changing work and the jobs that are available.”

Outsourcing parts of news organizations has become common practice across North America in the past decade as media profit margins have been erased by the collapse of advertising revenue.

The Canadian Press, for instance, has a wholly owned subsidiary, Pagemasters North America, which provides outsourced editorial production services by unionized staff in Canada and the United States. Postmedia Editorial Services also outsources “whole-process pagination solutions to daily newspapers across America” from its central hub in Hamilton.

“Anyone who’s been a news manager, every editor in the period that I was, has been an editor when the organization they were working for was downsizing the newsroom,” said Freeland.


 

Liberal hopeful Freeland, middle class champion, oversaw loss of media jobs

  1. ‘the technology revolution….’

    Yes, indeedy.

  2. So did she do it or did Reuters do it? Are you down to blaming people for things they had nothing to do with now?

    • She would have been told to find a way to make it happen… and if she didn’t, then they would have replaced her with someone who would. It would have happened, regardless.

      • Already trained to toe the party line, then, like every good Liberal should.

        • Yeah, Cons are always such mavericks, rogues and free-thinkers.

        • I would have thought it primed her for CPC membership.

          • Well then, she is in the wrong party isn’t she…or not.

      • Yes Keith, that is always the crux of it. I believe yours was the argument made by the guards at Auschwitz and other concentrations camps…..If I didn’t help them, someone else would have. “It would have happened, regardless.” Do you see how this excuse does not relieve us of our personal responsibility to ensure that we don’t make choices in our careers to make money off of other people’s suffering? Especially if we want to later run for political office on a slogan of saving the middle class from the oppression of the rich corporations? Mr. Freeland has to wear this because she took the job and kept the job knowing what the job entailed.

        • Seriously? You are comparing layoffs to mass murder?

          You lost your point with that.

          • Gayle, I am just illustrating the slippery slope that occurs when we refuse to accept personal responsibility for the decisions we make in order to advance our careers. People can say they didn’t have a choice but that just means they wouldn’t have made as much money or risen as high up on the ladder. To suggest that if they didn’t do it, someone else would have done it. Sure that is true and that is what all socio and psycho-paths say.
            Of course working in a concentration camp and working as a manager, firing people is not of the same magnitude but at the same time, loss of job has a devastating effect on someone’s life. It, along with death and divorce is among the top stressors in life. Don’t dismiss it as “she had no choice.” She did have a choice and she benefited financially and career wise from the choice she made.

          • Try it this way: If the unit wasn’t profitable, then the choice may have been moving those jobs offshore or closing it down entirely, putting even more out of work. Would you rather lose some jobs, or all?

            BTW: The comparison to concentration camps for a pretty standard business move normally gets someone on these boards labelled “commie” by right-wingers. How on earth did you end up on that side of the line?

          • My comparison to a concentration camp was solely for the purpose of illustrating that people cannot avoid taking personal responsibility for the decisions to directly participate in actions that hurt others. While in the army or even in healthcare, it is not an acceptable defense to claim one was following orders and thereby release yourself of your participation in any action.
            As for spinning Freeland as a savior by firing 22 people instead of more… are you going to spin Mitt Romney as a savior for all of the outsourcing of jobs he has done? At what point does outsourcing jobs cross the line from being a necessity to stop bankruptcy vs. being a way to pad the profit margins of your employer? Do you really think Ms. Freeland didn’t earn a nice little bonus for her efforts? Come on Keith, you aren’t that naive.
            The woman is in love with Margaret Thatcher and Sarah Palin. Gee Keith, call me a commie but this one is not who you think she is.

          • “At what point does outsourcing jobs cross the line from being a
            necessity to stop bankruptcy vs. being a way to pad the profit margins
            of your employer?”

            That is a good question – you should probably try to answer it before jumping to conclusions.

          • Given that Reuters has been outsourcing journalism jobs to India since at least 2005, it is not a stretch to believe that this was profit driven and that Freeland knew the reputation of the company before she hired on as a manager.

          • Belief is not the same thing as evidence. That is the part you fail to grasp.

          • Frankly I haven’t given her a lot of thought one way or another. I just find it surprising that so many right-wingers are attacking her for right-wing SOP.

          • That is the point Keith. She is running as a supposed Liberal and yet her behaviors and the articles she has written scream Republican Party. There is a complete disconnect between her actions/writing and supposed beliefs. Did you see when she, Justin and Scott Brison were interviewed on Tv ( as reported in the Huffington Post) and she said that the problem with Canada is that despite how hard to you work or study (or in the alternative how lazy and unintelligent you are), the determining factor for how far up the ladder you rise is what your father did for a living. Duh? Justin Trudeau is sitting right there….so according to her, he is only there because his dad was PM…. too funny.

          • So now, instead of comparing her to a Nazi, you compare her to a sociopath and/or psychopath. You haven’t made your case any stronger.

          • Gayle, haven’t you heard that many of the most successful in business have some psychopathic tendencies. I did not make this up. It is known to be true.

          • Some people who are successful in business are, in fact, actual psychopaths. However, to say she is because she did her job is not a rational argument.

            Laying someone off does not make you evil. Get a grip.

          • Gayle, read the comment again. I never claimed Ms. Freeland is a psychopath. You made that leap after my response to Keith who was trying to absolve Ms. Freeland from accepting any person responsibility by claiming if she hadn’t taken the job on some else would have. I said Keith’s argument is the argument that mirrors that used by psycho and socio-paths to explain away their actions. Ms. Freeland has to my knowledge never offered any excuse for her actions.
            I did not say she is evil, I said she did her job efficiently and effectively. She rose up the corporate ladder by being unsentimental and by firing middle class workers and outsourcing their jobs to a third world country….just like Mitt Romney did. To package herself as a savior for the middle class in Canada…she better come up with some alternatives for saving companies and jobs and explain why she participated in firing 22 middle class Canadian journalists and outsourcing their jobs. She needs to explain what she would do differently now.

          • Oh I read your comments, and your interesting rewrite of them in light of my criticism.

            Nice try though.

  3. She made Chagundala very happy!

  4. This is silly. Who says you cannot champion the middle class and also do your job to make your employer economically viable at the same time. Would it have been better for her to argue for keeping too many people on the payroll and eventual bankruptcy?

    I understand why the people who lost their jobs are bitter. Being fired does that to you. But to suggest this makes her a hypocrite is quite a stretch.

    • Gayle, she was a henchman who fired people and outsourced jobs out of Canada to India. She can certainly champion the middle-class in Canada because she intimately knows about how corporations take jobs from the middle-class in Canada and send them to foreign countries to save money. When she was involved as one of the managers in just such corporation and actually did that function, she had no sympathy for the middle-class journalists whose jobs she was out-sourcing. Do you think Reuters was going bankrupt or do your think the 1 percent, including wannabe’s like Ms. Freeland really just wanted a bigger piece of the pie?

      • Nope, nope and nope.

        Seriously, now you have decided she was a “henchman” who “had no sympathy”. That must be based on your lengthy conversations with her at the time?

        You clearly did not read the article, and are attempting to use this story as a way to take a cheap political shot at her.

        Downsizing is unfortunate, but it also happens all the time. All managers have to face that difficult decision. But it will happen.

        Sometimes you make sense, but you have totally lost the plot on this one.

        • Yes, Mitt Romney does it all the time and was roundly criticized in the last US election for outsourcing jobs. My opinion of Ms. Freeland was based on the article about the people who worked with her. The ones she fired. You remember, those people whose jobs she outsourced. Gee Gayle, the woman is a big fan of Margaret Thatcher and Sarah Palin. She wrote glowing articles about them. Take off your rose colored liberal glasses and see what is really there.

          • Ha ha. At what point did I sing her praises? Answer: I didn’t.

            I am simply criticizing your simplistic and unsupportable analysis.

            Wow – people who lost their jobs were upset at the person who fired them. What. A. Shock. That must be definitive proof the person doing the firing does not care about the middle class.

            Sheesh…

            PS I guess it would have been better if she had advocated for keeping the jobs and the eventual bankruptcy of her employer, thereby ensuring all the remaining middle class employees did not have jobs either.

          • By the way, this is what she had to say about why she praised Palin:

            “My basic point there, which I completely stand by, is that if you are a feminist — and I totally am — and you believe it’s important to have women break glass ceilings in politics and in other walks of life, you can’t be hypocritical about that,” Freeland said.

            “There is sometimes an attitude, on the left, that says breaking a glass ceiling by a woman . .. only counts if it’s someone who shares my political views. The point that I made in that piece is that’s hypocritical.”

            And you have twisted that into making it sound like she supports Palin’s politics. That is why you have no credibility – you just make stuff up and assert it as though it were truth.

          • Gayle….I said she was a fan of Sarah Palin. You twisted it to be about politics. I am still trying to get my head around the fact that an intelligent person could find anything about Sarah Palin to be a fan of.

          • I am not the one twisting. I posted her actual words. See, when you rely on what someone actually said, you are not twisting. When you pretend they said something they did not say, you ARE twisting.

            Or maybe you can tell me what problem you have with the position that we should praise all women who break the glass ceiling? Or are you one of those people she is critical of – the kind of person who says the only women who should be successful are the ones who agree with your politics?

            Or maybe you should just read her quote again and get a clue.

          • Gayle….Sarah Palin is perhaps one of the most clueless people, female or male on the planet. The fact that she “broke the glass ceiling” is a very said commentary on the US electoral system. When we start celebrating people with zero common sense and very little intelligence for their success simply because they are women, we do no favors to ourselves or our gender.

          • I think you have been giving her a run for her money on this thread.

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