Shea Allen, an investigative reporter for WAAY-TV, a Huntsville, Alabama, ABC affiliate, was fired from her job despite what had been considered sterling work because of a post she made on her personal blog.
Titled “Confessions of a Red Headed Reporter,” it was a light-hearted list of, she thought, minor quirks and trivial transgressions.
The fateful list:
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)
Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz:
Was it fair for the station to fire her?
Fair? Sure, it was fair. I wouldn’t have fired her, but I would have warned her: the list was unprofessional, and reflected poorly on the station and its personnel. 1, 4, 5, 7, and 8 are obviously nothing (though Allen says that the sleeping in the car was an issue), but the rest are statements management has legitimate reasons to object to from any employee:
- #2 suggests manipulative conduct by the reporter.
- #3, saying that she goes on camera when she “has no idea what she’s talking about,” is not a statement calculated to engender trust from the news watching public.
- #6 is insulting to a key demographic for the news. This was her dumbest “confession,” and could justify the firing all by itself.
- #9 essentially is an admission that she’ll lie. Not good.
- #10: Stealing mail? Really?
Shea also told The Blaze that the station trampled on her First Amendment rights, which means that she doesn’t understand the First Amendment.
The station could have been kind, generous, and forgiving, but it had due cause to fire her.
UPDATE: Apparently the blog post was the third strike, after other issues that the station legitimately could consider cause for alarm. In light of this, my belief that the station could have been more patient with Allen is, shall we say, shaken. Her eagerness to bring her firing into the web’s gossip mill is also evidence that perhaps WAAY-TV had seen enough to know that she was a risky employee to keep around, if a talented one, and that the wise thing would be to let her learn to be a professional—or not—on someone else’s watch.
Facts and Graphic: The Blaze