Manitoba·Blog

CBC Manitoba videographers recount FHRITP heckling while on the job

At least 11 CBC Manitoba staff have been targeted by the same type of vulgar heckling that got an Ontario man fired from his job this week. Two of them were videographers Sara Calnek and Holly Caruk. Here, they talk about being targeted in their workplace.
This week, a Hydro One engineer was with a group of men who made the crude remarks at CityNews reporter Shauna Hunt during an on-air interview at a Toronto FC game. Days later, he lost his job. (CityNews)

At least 11 CBC Manitoba staff have been targeted by the same type of vulgar heckling that got an Ontario man fired from his job this week. Two of them were videographers Sara Calnek and Holly Caruk. Here, they talk about being targeted in their workplace.

Targetted while covering fundraiser for girls

Holly Caruk, CBC News

I was assigned to cover a fundraising event at a local high school where students were raising money to help buy feminine hygiene products to send to Africa to help keep girls from missing school while they had their periods.

It was a sensitive subject to be discussing with high school kids, but after interviewing a female student, I asked a male student if he would offer his perspective on the event. After some encouragement from his friends, he agreed to do the interview.

I barely got out my first question before one of these same friends (male) yelled "f--k her right in the p---y" into my lens.

The room erupted with adolescent laughter, and I'm sure my face turned bright red. I brushed it off, trying to be professional, but it was clear that this was the intention from the beginning and the interview was not salvageable.
CBC videographer Holly Caruk has been targetted by the obscene heckling multiple times, including when interviewing families and children. (CBC)

This wasn't the only time this has happened to me. It's actually happened several times. Some of them in "drive by" moments, and other times very up close and personal.

As a member of the media, I've had several "threatening" encounters with the public, from shouting "Get lost," to "I'll punch you in the face," to "I'll shoot you if you don't leave."

These situations happen from time to time because of the nature of some of the stories we have to cover. I've always strived to be professional, follow the law and follow the code of conduct set out by my employer. But this FHRITP movement, trend, whatever it is, that has become a social media phenomenon, is set apart from all of those other instances.

This prank isn't something that happens because the subject matter is tense and people are saying things in the heat of what is a very difficult moment.

It happens because people think it's funny to disrupt a professional situation and to demean women while doing it.

It has happened to both male and female members of the media, but as a woman, and a woman who was working alone when many of these events occurred, it always felt very personal. I did feel demeaned.

I was simply trying to do my job and someone thought it would be funny to incite, what I interpreted as sexual violence, toward me.

This isn't ok. It's not funny.

No one would put up with that in their workplace. These young men wouldn't go into a boardroom and shout an obscenity at someone giving a presentation, so why would they think it's ok to do this to me in my workplace?

I understand that as a member of the media my job is different, and I maybe more visible and public than other jobs.

I understand that the people that did this likely didn't mean to upset me. But what I also understand is that as a woman I've put up with it. I've excused the behaviour. Perhaps it's time I stopped.

FHRITP interferes with ability to do my job

Sara Calnek, CBC News

Being a female videographer in this city for eight years, I have found myself in some very disrespectful and scary situations.

This trend of FHRITP is something I'm tired of.

Three times I have heard it, but it was the last time that left a lasting effect.

It was Sunday, April 26, 2015.

I remember that day vividly because of the horrific story we were covering.

On that Saturday, two bodies were found less than a block apart in Winnipeg's downtown.

The police issued a warning to the homeless to stay in pairs and stay out of secluded areas.

My reporter (also a female) and I rushed over to Siloam Mission to get reaction to this horrific story.

I positioned our interview across the street from the shelter to have the building in the background. The interview was sombre and sad as the volunteer spoke of the community he serves as some of the most vulnerable people in our city.
CBC videographer Sara Calnek has been repeatedly targetted by FHRITP. (CBC)

He discussed an extremely sensitive and terrifying moment for Winnipeg's homeless as they were being targeted by a serial killer.

During this interview, a black truck sped by in the background, the driver leaned out the window and screamed f--k her right in the p---y."

The interview, the reporter and myself just stopped. We were stunned. I didn't know what to say or do. We all just pretended that it didn't happen and continued with the interview.

The feeling and emotion of the interview was completely lost at that point.

This is why this situation bugs me so much. It is a sexist and degrading thing to say, but as I mentioned before, these types of situations are not new to me. The biggest problem I have with this is the story we were covering -- the incredibly sensitive, horrific, and terrifying story we were covering.

I was disgusted and insulted, disrespected and degraded as well as purposely made to feel vulnerable.

But it wasn't just me. I wasn't alone. There were five of us standing on that side of the street and countless more in front of the mission.

Here's the thing, the guys driving by who thought this was a good idea probably don't even remember that they did it. They probably don't have any thoughts about all the people who heard it. They definitely didn't think about the story we were covering.

I wonder if they even care.

I remember it because of how it made me feel.

FHRITP is a blatant attack on journalism — an attack on our reporters, our videographers, our interviews and our viewers.

When someone chooses to yell those stupid useless words, it effects the progression of an interview, the tone of a story, even the shots I shoot, which in turn effects what you see on the news.

It causes us to want to escape, to run away and to get out of there as soon as possible. The same effect a physical threat has. This is a threat.

This attack on journalism must stop.

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