In the course of investigating the WE organization for his feature story, Jaren Kerr approached WE for comment 19 days before publication. The organization responded promptly, asking for further clarification, and then offered extensive comment once clarification was provided. CANADALAND had follow-up questions, and extensive response was provided to those as well. We also received documents from WE from their websites and brochures that touched on the subject matter we asked them about, and letters from WE’s lawyers.
In total, WE sent CANADALAND over 100 pages of information. In deciding what parts of it to include in his story, Jaren and his editors looked for responses that directly addressed the questions we asked.
But in the interests of transparency, and to fully represent everything WE had to say, we are also publishing the documents they provided to us in full.
(WE also sent us various publicly-available documents that can be found on their websites. We have not included those documents in this post)
Here they are:
UPDATE (Monday, October 15, at 5:53 p.m. EDT): Here is a memo sent to WE’s Toronto employees this morning by Scott Baker and Russell McLeod, the executive directors of WE Charity and ME to WE, respectively. We have removed email addresses and a link to WE’s internal feedback form.
Sent: October 15, 2018 9:52 AM
To: Office TO
Subject: Unique learning opportunity from a disappointing “media” article
I hope this finds you well and enjoying a wonderful morning.
It’s been a busy few weeks with WE Day UN in the rearview, WE Day X Minnesota just past earlier this week, and our first ever WE Day Alberta to take place in Edmonton.
We wanted to take a moment to reach out to you all, first, as you are our most important stakeholder.
Over the last 20 years, we have been fortunate to receive overwhelmingly positive media coverage of our work at home and abroad. We have the privilege of working closely with reputable media organizations, especially in delivering our “Global Voices” media literacy program to over 10,000 teachers on a regular basis. This is, in addition, to the 1.5 billion positive media impressions from WE Day events last year, often covered by press from all corners of the world.
Disappointingly, WE was the subject of some “negative” coverage by a small website that operates as an “alternative media website”. The website is known for its “controversial views” and for disregarding standard journalistic practices.
Over the last few years, they have occasionally targeted WE Charity and our co-founders, including previously attacking a well-respected media literacy partnership active in classrooms between the Globe & Mail and WE Charity, in a commentary piece entitled, “Why it is important to kick these people when they are down”.
They have recently done this again in an article and podcast which was posted online. A copy of the article is attached for you and we would encourage you to read it.
Please allow us to share that:
- This is not responsible journalism.
- Their commentary is incorrect and full of significant errors.
- They have purposefully disregarded dozens of key facts which we have provided them.
- Over the last few weeks, our team has provided them over 100 pages of detailed notes, data and context to provide commentary (they thankfully posted it all online and it is some fun and interesting reading).
- Their reach is very small.
We recognize that this fringe group is a tiny website, and few people will ever read this. Nevertheless, we wish to use this as a learning opportunity for all of us. We always welcome these kinds of conversations, and we think we should embrace this one too! We also believe in full transparency and wanted to pro-actively send this information to you to begin this educational conversation.
As the meme goes, “when they go low, we go factual” (As an aside…..We love this saying….).
To that note, we have included some additional information for your reading pleasure here as well. Including an article on how “WE Do Good Differently” which we ask you to read as well. We have also produced a video on why and how we are different which can be found here. It is only our four minutes and suggest a chance to please review it. Lastly, we included our statement which they read on the podcast today (with fun music in the background no less…).
We have asked your senior leaders to lead conversations with you at some point in the day.
We take great pride in our reputation and that of all our stakeholders, from our staff, to our educational partners, to our corporate partners.
Our work is supported by a model of efficiency, sustainability and impact. Over the years, we have been asked some of the toughest questions and been interviewed by credible media outlets such as 60 Minutes, The New York Times and the Economist, with extremely positive results.
Of course, should you have any questions on the matter, please connect with the Head of your department. You can also reach out to us via the WE connect feedback form on the Hive.
This is a small bump along a long road of bettering the world. We appreciate you being with us on the journey, are deeply proud of the work you do and grateful for the hours that you put in.
Scott and Russ