Shea Allen expected to report the news, not be part of it. But now, after a personal post online got her fired, she’s the subject of a national news story.
In Huntsville, Ala., Allen was a regular fixture on the evening news, covering a wide range of stories for ABC affiliate WAAY. But it was her blog, not her reporting, that landed her in hot water, splashing her name across national headlines.
Even though it was written during time off from work, a blog post titled “No Apologies: Confessions of a Red Headed Reporter” didn’t fly well with her bosses.
Among the “confessions”: she’s frightened of old people and refuses to do stories involving them; her best sources have a secret crush on her, and she’s gone without a bra during a live report — and no one noticed.
Allen thought it was all in good fun, but her bosses clearly didn’t get the joke. Allen says she was fired three days after she posted the “confessions.” The station has told NBC News that it couldn’t comment on personal matters.
“I was being snarky and funny; I certainly didn’t think it would come to this,” she told NBC’s Janet Shamlian in a report that aired Tuesday on TODAY. “I know it sounds like a cliché, but I’m in this business to make a difference. My ability to do so has been taken away.”
Allen’s story may be a warning to the millions of Americans who blithely use social media, posting about everything from their sex lives to problems with their bosses. That public blurring of the personal and the professional can create big problems, experts say.
“I think a lot of younger professionals are so used to posting about their lives on social media that maybe they don’t have the same filter as those of us who didn’t have that option when we started our careers," said Lindsey Pollak, a career and workplace expert.
Allen's blog isn’t her only foray onto the Internet: She’s got a YouTube channel that’s as candid as her blog. In one segment she talks about the duller moments of a reporter’s life.
“This is me sitting in my car waiting to do a story about nothing and getting paid less than most McDonald’s managers,” she says to the camera while sitting in her car.
Allen hopes that it will all blow over. She insists that she’s a committed journalist and hopes to be back on TV reporting the news soon.
A TODAY.com poll showed a slim majority of readers behind her, with 53 percent saying that she shouldn’t have lost her job.
Allen isn't the first journalist to get in trouble using social media. Last year The New York Times suspended contributing writer Andrew Goldman after he got into a very public twitter battle with best-selling novelist Jennifer Weiner.