A Global News executive said the media outlet is “taking action” but declined to give specifics after a high-profile radio host quit, alleging the “false narratives” perpetuated by talk radio hosts resulted in an increase in the racist, violent messages she received.
Supriya Dwivedi resigned as co-host of The Morning Show on Global News Radio 640 Toronto in October and worked her last day last week. As previously reported by VICE World News, Dwivedi quit because she alleged her employer refused to do anything about the “false narratives about refugees, Muslims, Sikhs, and other targeted groups” being spread by her talk radio colleagues. She said when she tried to correct the record on air, she received a deluge of hate, including rape threats directed at her baby.
On Thursday, Ward Smith, senior vice president of Global News, sent out an internal message to staff that referenced VICE World News’ story and committed to do more to tackle systemic racism.
“We know that some of you may feel conflicted: you want to believe in our organization but at times find your confidence shaken,” Smith wrote. “Systemic racism is the subject of much of our news content and the growing discontent of our society. Corus is not immune from the discourse and as such these issues are at the core of an ongoing internal reflection.”
Smith said Global News already has the “highest editorial standards in the industry,” but can do more. He said the company will be rolling out a “new plan regarding social media that we hope will fundamentally re-set how we interact with platforms we don’t control.”
Smith did not give any specifics about that plan or how the company plans to improve its editorial standards.
Howard Levitt, a lawyer for Corus Entertainment, Global News’ parent company, previously told Dwivedi’s lawyer the outlet “did everything possible to protect her and others from racism and misogyny.” Levitt said if Dwivedi cannot tolerate trolls, “she does not belong in talk radio as practiced in North America.”
Corus declined to answer if it stands behind those comments, which have been widely condemned, and whether Levitt will continue to represent the company.
Corus also did not answer how Smith’s claims about having high editorial standards square with misinformation that has been spread on Global News’ talk radio shows, including claims that detained migrant children in the U.S. are actors; the photo of Alan Kurdi, a dead Syrian child, was staged; Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is a globalist; and systemic racism doesn't exist in Canada.
A Corus spokesperson told VICE World News, “We are finding it increasingly challenging to contribute in a meaningful way to your requests. We are steadfast in our commitment to support our people and create long-term sustainable change within our organization. We care deeply about our people and the work that we do.”
Dwivedi told VICE World News’ Smith’s message to staff sounds like “a corporate word salad without any real action or commitment to concrete action.”
She said after going public, she’s received “dozens and dozens” of messages from former and current Corus employees who said they’ve raised similar complaints internally, to no avail.
“Had I not gone public, (they) wouldn't have even considered any of these changes. That’s pretty shitty for the employees,” she said.
The Coalition for Women in Journalism, a nonprofit international organization, denounced Global News’ treatment of Dwivedi in a statement posted on its website.
“CFWIJ condemns Global News’ silence regarding the aired misinformation targeting marginalized groups, as well as their failure to support Supriya. Many journalists are vulnerable to online smear campaigns as a result of the media outlet’s inadequate policies. We caution once again that the lack of protective measures can be detrimental to both the careers and well-being of journalists,” the statement said.
Liberal MP Adam Vaughan tweeted that Corus and Global News have “a responsibility to provide a safe workspace and in particular need to be held to account for the toxic on-air diatribes they produce.”
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