Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Shea Allen, Fired Reporter--Personal Blog vs. Public Job

Image: Shea Allen, former reporter for an Alabama news station, on a happier day.  From an article on dailymail.co.uk, here.

Shea Allen, former on-air reporter for an Alabama news station, was recently fired for re-posting a list of ten confessions, each of which had to do with her job.  She has stated that she was fired for the post, and that she (and maybe half of the commenters) are aghast about this.

Before reading the rest of this, take a quick look at her blog entry.

If you'd read the comments, you might've noticed that I'd deleted a comment that I had, for about three seconds, originally published--and I did so before I copied it, which shows you how dumb I am.  Now I have to try and remember what I'd written, and put it here as honestly as I can.

The reason I responded at all is because I also have (and still have) a very public job. My response went something like this:

Wait!  Genius that I am, I figured that if I just pressed the BACK button enough, I'd get my list back, and I did.  I wrote it as if I were writing to her, since I'd been responding to the entry on her blog.  So, here it is, and afterwards I'll explain why I deleted it there and posted it here (besides the obvious copyright infringement, if her site is copyrighted, which it should be):

--You have a child to provide for.

--You had a public job. You were a public figure.

--You showed up a public employer, in the public realm.

--You needed to show that you took your job seriously, as well as the responsibility of reporting the news and of putting it before yourself.

--You risked lowering your news ratings by alienating your largest demographic. If the ratings plummeted, you, and others, may have lost your jobs.

--You posted all of this in a public forum. On the internet, there is no such thing as a private anything.

--You showed incredibly poor judgment and really bad decision-making skills.

--You were unprofessional, and in a very public way.

(Me again.)  I would argue that these are all valid points (you can comment so if you disagree), but I think the one that would surprise her, twenty-six year old, pretty woman who has grown up in the technology age that she is, is the one in which I said that, on the internet, there is no private anything.

The argument she poses is that her blog is her "personal" and "private" blog, and the (public) station had no right firing her over it.  This is, of course, nonsense.  There is no personal or private anything on the internet.  Period.  Her ignorance of this, considering her job, is astoundingly immature.  Another facet of this point, that I didn't at first mention, is that she even makes her station look bad by not moderating the comments on her blog.  Have you read some of that stuff?  She let complete idiots use any language they wanted to comment about her blog, about what she does, and about what she thinks re: working for her public news station.  She didn't even moderate the comments!  She didn't even try to moderate the attention she received--she took it all!

What public figure does that?  Even I moderate the comments on my blog--which drives away those who want to leave a stupid or juvenile comment.  Her failure to do so is a clear example of poor judgment and bad decision-making.  Just that alone--never mind her comment about her fear of the elderly (I'm going to guess that at least 75% of this nation's elderly watch some sort of news program) or about stealing people's mail.  I can't imagine Murrow or Brokaw posting a blog like this, had they been able to.

It just wasn't professional.  And letting the riff-raff post juvenile comments is another example of that lack of professionalism.

I have a public job.  The reader will rarely, if ever, read about it here.  Instead you'll find probably more than you want about my thoughts of the movies I watch, the books I read, and the non-job-related thoughts (none of them controversial) I have about things (I feel one brewing about people who never take down their yard sale signs).  My job?  I simply don't mention it.  Why?  Because it's not professional.  Do I have things I'd love to vent?  Sure--Who doesn't?  But I don't.  Because I'm an adult.  Because there's no such thing as a private, or just personal, anything on the internet.  Because, fair or not, that's just the way it is.  And at my age, I'm way over "That's not fair!" being a winning reason about why I do anything at all.

And it's more than that.

Bottom line: I like my job.  A lot.  And I have a mortgage to pay, and things I want to do in which I need money.  I like my (very minor) social status.  For example, I get many hellos when I go to Dunkin' Donuts drive thrus.  It ain't much, but it's all I've got, and I like it.  This former reporter showed she didn't like her job and she didn't take it seriously.  How do I know this?  Simple.  She re-published the blog after she was told to take it down.  She did take it down, at first.  But like some petulant child, she re-posted it, thereby giving the finger to her bosses, and showing her ignorance for the very good reasons about why they told her to take it down to begin with.  I guarantee that their #1 reason was her quip about fearing the elderly, and about how she will not do any story about an elderly person, ever.  That's the demographic, man.  The elderly watch the station, which shows ads, which makes it money, which the station uses to pay its reporters, of which she had been one.  It's that simple.  She very publicly cost her employer money, and she very publicly made it look bad.

And she let any idiot comment on it.  Do you think Brian Williams would post an incendiary blog in which any moron could respond by using whatever word at all he wanted to?  That alone would make NBC look bad.  And so I deleted mine, because I didn't want to be one of those, although many commenters were fine, and adult.  But when I realized that there wasn't any moderating going on (and, yes, I should have realized that sooner, before I was just asked to re-type two words, and then saw my response published), I decided that I didn't want to be a part of that--and that my response would make a better blog entry, since I also have a public job, with very public responsibilities.

It's just part of being an adult.

And, as a last caveat, her blog page says that she is still a reporter at that station.  She isn't, and wasn't even professional enough to edit that on her blog.

What do you think?  Should she have been fired?    

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