FHRITP's long, ugly history -- J-Source.ca -- The Canadian Journalism Project

Sat, 07/22/2017 - 09:41

Posted by fcadweb on November 10, 2015

FHRITP's long, ugly history Live

In the past 48 hours, a video of a woman harassed while doing her job as a television reporter for CityNews has gone viral, a Hydro One employee has lost his job for engaging in conduct related to that incident and Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment has declared it will ban anyone on their facilities heard saying the obscene phrase at the centre of this fracas.

The live video of CityNews reporter Shauna Hunt confronting a group of men waiting around to shout the phrase at her while covering a Toronto FC soccer game last Sunday (it had happened nearly 10 times that afternoon) became widely shared by Tuesday morning, prompting online outrage. One of the men who stayed on air to defend the practice has since been identified and fired from his job. From Global News: 

Hydro One said in a statement Tuesday that the organization was taking steps “to terminate the employee for violating our Code of Conduct.”

“Respect for all people is engrained in the code and our values. We are committed to a work environment where discrimination or harassment of any type is met with zero tolerance,” Daffyd Roderick, a spokesperson for Hydro One said in a statement.

The employee has been identified as Shawn Simoes, a Hydro One employee who made the Sunshine List in 2014 with a salary of just over $106,000.

On the same day, MLSE issued a statement. From CityNews:

We are working to identify the individuals, and when we do they will be banned from all of our facilities. Moving forward, we will also work with our local television outlets to provide extra security support to female reporters doing live hits at any of our games. 

Nearly all coverage of the issue over the past couple of days notes that this practice has gone on for some time. As BuzzFeed Canada's Craig Silverman pointed out, an online collection of evidence for live hits alone suggests this happens regularly, and that reporters affected by it have written about their experiences before.

FHRITP caught on with internet joke trawlers after a January 2014 hoax video showed a fake Fox TV reporter accidentally saying the phrase on-air. In the year since, it's been used both as a prank both online and in person—often to interrupt (almost exclusively) female reporters while on the job, recording live hits. It has caught on enough to generate its own YouTube genre of people doing this to reporters while live on air—and collecting clips of the evidence.

FHRITP Best of 2014 #FHRITP
by NewsFunnies via YouTube

By late last year, reporters in Canada were experiencing this treatment—in some cases, almost regularly. CBC Montreal reporter Tanya Birkbeck, who along with Morgan Dunlop wrote about her own experiences getting harassed with the phrase while working in November 2014, said that ever since it's become a common occurrence.

"Basically every time I was covering a protest or a parade or a sports event, you could be almost guaranteed that it would happen," she told J-Source. 

At the time, Dunlop got in touch with the prank's progenitor, John Cain, who said he “did not know it would blow up this big.” He told Dunlop:

Male and female reporters have both encountered being interrupted during a live broadcast so it’s not just women. It is not an attack on women in any way.

He has since made a site dedicated to the prank and sells related merchandise.

While MLSE has indicated plans to support reporters of live sporting events in their facilities with security, CBC Montreal managing editor Helen Evans said that this had already been a consideration for reporters VJing (operating solo) in certain situations. "When we have live recordings, we’ve always assessed every live situation. If you’re going live from a big demo, or if you’re live from a Stanley Cup celebration or game, we always assess whether we need to provide security for our reporters. This is one of the factors that we take into account," she said.

She stressed, however, that no reporter has ever requested an assignment change as a result of this prank, nor has it affected any decisions the editorial team makes about who to send into the field. 

In Calgary, where the city's police service has already issued a statement to broadcasters indicating that such activity does constitute grounds for a charge and arrest, the prank became a particular issue in late April during the Calgary Flames playoff games. From Global News: 

Global’s Stefan Keyes experienced the FHRITP trend outside the Ship and Anchor Pub on 17 Ave. S.W. last week during a live report, after which police contacted him to say they are opening an investigation. He said it’s happened to him before, but this was the most “successful” and “intimate” incident. Keyes believes people do it because they think it’s funny and they’re trying to “get famous.” He says it’s important to speak out about why it’s offensive.

“It’s vulgar, it’s disrespectful, particularly to women…there are children watching,” he said. “It’s a little selfish to get off on a prank like that when there are thousands of viewers that are trying to enjoy their news, and you’re taking away from that.

Calgary Police Staff Sgt. Steve Ellefson told J-Source that a number of complaints to police were made at the time. Two arrests were made, but the complainants did not wish to make statements or pursue charges. "We’ve certainly, as we are with any complaint, are open to a complete and thorough investigation," he said. 

"These incidents are distasteful, disruptive, and certainly isn’t something that our community appreciates or accepts here in Calgary. In terms of the Red Mile, we take everyone’s safety seriously, and that includes members of the media."


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