In 2011, TV reporter Shea Allen started a blog on Blogger. She posted five times the first year, once in 2012 and five times in 2013 before everything came crashing down. In a rare moment of boredom, Shea wrote a funny post she called “Confessions of a Red-Headed Reporter” and that post got her fired.
(By sailko (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons)
You might think that Shea wrote something horrific, controversial and scandalous on her blog. Why else would she be fired without notice? But here’s the actual list that did her in:
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)
After she was fired, Shea told the world about it on Twitter and not long after, she went from one side of the reporter mic to the other. Dozens of journalists wrote about her and wanted to interview her, many zeroing in on the “bra-less” comment as the cause of her downfall. But Shea told The Blaze that her boss was more upset about the naps she’d taken on the job.
Given the crazy hours that reporters often have to work, taking a short nap in the news van makes sense. You want to be fresh when you’re on camera, so why not?
The managers of the Huntsville station where she worked said that the blog was harmful to the stations reputation. Again, it’s hard to imagine given the innocuous nature of her post.
Even though most of the world was on her side, Shea wasn’t comfortable with the media storm that followed. “Duck and cover. Wow. For God’s sake I just want to tell the news,” she Tweeted.
But the real secret to this entire mess might be found in a Tweet she posted just three days earlier. “My corporate CEO
@newsmex1 is now following me on Twitter. Both humbled & terrified by this realization. ;)”
Now, we don’t know for sure that one thing led to the other, but it’s funny that she posted her own concern a day before Tweeting her infamous post.
Whether the ABC affiliate had a right to fire Shea Allen is a matter for the courts or a union rep. I imagine someone is looking into that — or should be.
For the rest of us, it’s a topic for discussion. We like to think that our right to free speech protects us from retaliation, but companies have a right to protect their brand. This means that employees need to think carefully about what they post online, even when those posts are personal. Photos of a wild party might not be a problem if you work at a club, but if you’re a pre-school teacher they’re grounds for dismissal.
What’s tough about Shea’s case is that her post wasn’t so clear cut. Her remarks were funny and candid and most people don’t see them as inflammatory. Unfortunately, the only opinion that matters is her bosses and we know what he thinks.
When Shea started her blog two years ago, she posted this encouraging thought:
“With this blog, I hope to write something that resonates with the hearts of men and women. Writing in one sense is a selfish endeavor, because we write for ourselves in most cases. But the beauty of writing for yourself, and even at times about yourself, empowers your readers as they face the very same challenges and seek answers to the same issues. Let’s face it – it is the nature of human beings to love a good story.”
And that’s why we’re all rooting for her now.
Tell Us What You Think
Would you have fired Shea for that blog post? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below.
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