Former WAAY-TV reporter Shea Allen posted a list of confessions to her personal blog, “Shea Allen Says…”, entitled “No Apologies: Confessions of a Red Headed Reporter”. She listed ten confessions in her professional life, ranging from, “I’ve taken naps in the news car,” and “If you ramble and I deem you unnecessary for my story, I’ll stop recording but let you think otherwise,” to “I’ve stolen mail and then put it back. (maybe).”
Management from the Huntsville, Alabama ABC affiliate took offense to the post and abruptly fired her. In an interview with NBC News’ Janet Shamlian that aired on “Today,” Allen said she thought she was being “snarky and funny.”
“I know it sounds cliché, but I’m in this business to make a difference,” Allen said. “, and my ability to do so has been taken away.”
When asked for a response from NBC News, the station’s general manager Art Lanham replied, “We cannot comment on personal matters”.
My take: Being that Alabama is an “at-will” state and can fire people for any mundane reason, it’s no surprise of the result. Management may have brought her in to the office prior and told her to tone down the rhetoric on her blog, but we don’t know that. As bloggers, we do need to be aware of the risks these entries have in our daily work lives. It’s one of the last frontiers of free speech, one I support, fully. We take our rights to free speech for granted at times, and certainly, we would think those who are responsible for upholding the basic rights according to the constitution would know that.