Huntsville Reporter Fired After Posting Confessional Blog
Journalists are usually big fans of the right to self-expression, but many of their employers are a little more wary. One Hunstville station might have been so irked by one of its reporter's blog posts that it fired her, reports Mediaite. The post offered up jokey behind-the-scenes details of the reporter's TV life, including a supposed fear of "old people" and her occasionally bra-less appearances on the air.
Shea Allen, a reporter of Huntsville, Ala.-based ABC affiliate WAAY-TV, published the post last week, originally titled: "Confessions of a Red-Headed Reporter." Allen said that although she complied when urged to take it down by her bosses, a short time later she republished it with the prefix, "No Apologies." The original post reportedly read:
1. I've gone bra-less during a live broadcast and no one was the wiser.
2. My best sources are the ones who secretly have a crush on me.
3. I am better live when I have no script and no idea what I'm talking about.
4. I've mastered the ability to contort my body into a position that makes me appear much skinner in front of the camera than I actually am.
5. I hate the right side of my face.
6. I'm frightened of old people and I refuse to do stories involving them or the places they reside.
7. Happy, fluffy, rainbow stories about good things make me depressed.
8. I've taken naps in the news car.
9. If you ramble and I deem you unnecessary for my story, I'll stop recording but let you think otherwise.
10. I've stolen mail and then put it back. (maybe)
Then, after having taken it down, Allen reposted it with this preface:
This post was taken down because I was momentarily misguided about who I am and what I stand for. To clarify, I make no apologies for the following re-post. It's funny, satirical and will likely offend some of the more conservative folks. But it isn't fake and its a genuine look into my slightly twisted psyche.
Here's the thing, I've vowed to always fight for the right of free expression. It's allowed, no matter what the profession. I pride myself in having earned the respect of many because I make no apologies for the truth and hold nothing back. I don't fight for things because they serve me, I fight for them because they are right. Sources trust me because I am an unadulterated version of the truth. I won't ever bend just because its popular to do so and I'm not bending now.
Allen, who's worked in TV news since she graduated college in 2009, according to her LinkedIn profile, tweeted on Monday that she was "terminated without cause," adding, "If I'm going to take a stand on transparency, I gotta tell the whole story." WAAY-TV told the "Today" show that it doesn't comment on personnel matters.
Plenty of American workers have been fired over their personal blogs; it's even got a name -- being "dooced." But reporters might get in more trouble than most for off-the-clock online commentary, because they're encouraged to be active on social media as part of their jobs. Usually, these cases involve reporters compromising their objectivity, such as Octavia Nasr, CNN's senior editor for Middle Eastern affairs, who was fired over a tweet praising a Hezbollah leader, and the Politco reporter Joe Williams, who was fired after saying that Mitt Romney only seemed comfortable around "white folks" on MSNBC.
But sometimes reporters are pink-slipped, as Allen might have been, simply for getting a little too cozy on the Web. The Arizona Daily Star fired its sports reporter of 10 years, Brian Pedersen, after he'd posted tweets such as "What?!?!? No overnight homicide? WTF? You're slacking Tucson." He appealed his firing to the National Labor Relations Board, which sided with the Tucson newspaper.
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Claire Gordon has contributed to Slate's DoubleX, the Huffington Post, and the book Prisons: Current Controversies. While an undergraduate at Yale University and a research fellow at Yale graduate school, she spoke on panels at Yale and Cornell, and reported from Cairo, Tokyo, and Berlin.
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