Shea Allen's Blog Post is Stupidity, Not "Transparency"

As the news continues to go viral, chances are you've heard something about the reason why Alabama broadcast reporter Shea Allen was fired from her CBS affiliate station Monday. Well, there were 10 reasons. Allen got the boot after posting a blog entry titled "No apologies: confessions of a red-headed reporter." The list rifles off 10 humorous, unprofessional secrets of Allen's career, ranging from admission that she's stolen mail and slept in a news van to acknowledgement that her best sources are those that have a "crush" on her.

Predictably, her station, WAAY, asked her to remove the post. Allen initially deleted it, but then reposted a few hours later with an added forward:

"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. 

This is my voice. Hope it makes you laugh."

While the blog entry was ostensibly tongue-in-cheek, it was never very funny to begin with. Allen made some pretty colorful confessions that make her and her station look unprofessional, and reposting them is almost asking to have your reputation sullied. She took to Twitter to announce that she had been terminated without cause, and added that her post was a "stand on transparency."

 

Had Allen been fired for posting the blog once without warning, social media outrage would perhaps be warranted. But reposting it and still feeling wronged? It doesn't matter what industry you work in or how transparent you hope to be in your profession: When your employers tell you to take something down, you don't blatantly disobey them without expecting some consequence.

More importantly, WAAY asking for Allen to take her post down was doing her a favor. The blog showed some personality, as she intended, but it also called into question her ability and ethics as a reporter. Had Allen not been fired, viewers would be skeptical of every segment she was in.

It does raise an interesting question though. Where is the line in posting on the internet, and does that line change for journalists? Transparency should be encouraged, and Twitter, Facebook, and blogs are the best way for a reporter to engage with its readership. But secrets that damage a company name should never be revealed. If Allen was the owner of her work, nobody would have a problem with what she posted.

Allen's post and repost exemplify the wrong way to use social media as a journalist. Nobody gained anything from her blog, but she certainly lost something.