Ahead of a major overhaul of the paper coming later this year, The Globe and Mail has let go of “a number of” longtime, high-profile freelance columnists, including Tabatha Southey and Leah McLaren.
This morning, editor-in-chief David Walmsley sent identically-worded emails to affected writers, which have been shared with CANADALAND:
I wanted to write you to let you know the results of a review The Globe and Mail has undertaken with respect to our freelance footprint. As a result I am sorry to tell you we will no longer be taking your submissions on a regular basis.
You are one of a number of freelancers affected. The review considered overall gaps and strengths in our current and future coverage plans and overall budget priorities.
I would like to thank you for the great work you have done for us over the years and wish you a continued bright future with your pen and pixels, wherever they take you.
In a reply to Walmsley, McLaren clapped back:
I wanted to write you to let you know the results of a review I have personally undertaken with respect to our How Not To Fire Someone After Seventeen Years of Writing a Column.
You are one of a number of managers affected. The review considered overall gaps and strengths in inexcusable management style, appalling jargon-filled memospeak and a complete lack of human empathy.
I would like to thank you for the great work you have done over the years in this regard and wish you a continued bright future in trying get some sleep at night.
McLaren declined to comment further, as did Southey, who has a book of collected columns coming out at the end of September.
But in a 2013 profile, Southey told the Ryerson Review of Journalism that she had been “devastated” when her Globe column was previously discontinued in 2010 before being restored due to public outcry.
“I kept thinking, ‘That last column I filed, it wasn’t very good! It should’ve been better!’” she told the RRJ, which described its attempts to receive an official explanation from the paper: “Gabe Gonda, editor of the Focus section at that time, initially denied killing Southey’s column, then conceded that it was ‘suspended briefly,’ then gave a ‘no comment,’ and finally said the paper ‘briefly toyed with the idea of changing the column and running another column in that space.'”
Earlier this year, McLaren was the subject of a bizarre controversy — branded by Southey as “#lacgate” — that resulted in her columns receiving additional scrutiny from senior editors.
We’ve reached out to Walmsley for a response and look forward to updating with his comments if we hear back.