CONFESSIONS FROM A VETERAN JOURNALIST AND COACH
(Huntsville, Alabama)--If I have said it once, I have said it a million times, "Everything that comes up doesn't have to come out!" (Out of your mouth that is). That sobering reminder echoed in my ear as I woke up to the national headlines Tuesday morning. Let’s just say, I was more than a little surprised when one the more controversial headlines was breaking in my own backyard.
Huntsville’s own, Shea Allen, an investigative reporter who worked at WAAY-TV (ABC Affiliate) for nearly two years was terminated last week for publicly revealing too much about herself. She was reportedly fired after her general manager viewed her blog entitled: "Confessions of A Red-Headed Reporter." (SEE THE TODAY SHOW PROFILE/REPORT AT THE END OF THIS REPORT).
Shea had her blog confession; now here’s mine.
This week, “confessions" of an older, wiser, brunette-reporter who has learned a thing or two about how your activities are monitored, both on and off camera.
First confession: Total transparency! Many of the rookie reporters I coach everyday believe I coined the phrase "Everything that comes up, doesn't have to come out!" But honestly, I did not. All the credit for that goes to another seasoned, award winning journalist, Valorie Carter. I fondly remember Valorie reciting that phrase as apart of her daily morning devotion. The only difference is when Valorie said it she was pointing to her temple and then her lips.
Quite honestly it became the "tag line" to both of our lives as Valorie and I were still finding our way during our rookie years in a Birmingham, Alabama television newsroom nearly ten years ago.
I missed the days when television newsrooms were filled with trusted, Emmy-award winning veteran anchors and reporters who looked out for younger reporters; and would help to instill in them credibility, integrity and ethics.
Unfortunately for Shea Allen and many other 21st century multi-media journalists, the newsroom environment I worked in doesn’t exist anymore.
After coaching rookie reporters for the past few years, I’ve come to realize many of them are entering the newsroom without filters. Sadly, they don’t know what to keep to themselves.
I am constantly reminding my clients through my company about compromising photos or "excessive profanity" on Facebook, Instagram and other social media outlets.
Experience has taught me that not only is a journalism degree necessary to succeed in the business; having a mentor and or coach is necessary in order to survive in this competitive industry. That’s exactly why I created Walton and Associates.
Everyday I coach the next generation of news makers on the “art of journalism.” This situation is exactly why I’ve chosen to become an advocate for my clients who are constantly schooled about a certain decorum that is expected as long as they have a television station's call letters behind their name! Bottom line when you are hired your integrity becomes the station's integrity and more importantly--their credibility!
Second confession: I have never met Shea Allen. In fact, I’ve only watched her reports from a distance whenever I am on assignment in Huntsville. It is a shame because I am one of many in the industry who thought Shea was more than just another pretty face.
Third confession: Call me old school, but no matter what generation you fall in, the fact of matter is we all have made mistakes! Television news is based on “human interaction”. It is a sobering reminder of what we are called to do and to never lose focus.
I truly believe Shea Allen has all the makings of a good investigative reporter. Honestly, I often thought, given time she could find herself in a TOP 10 market or perhaps the network. I'm sure however, she never dreamed in a million years she would finally make it THE TODAY SHOW but, for all the wrong reasons.
Chalk it up as a teachable moment Shea. As you go forward remember this. It's something that this sustained me for nearly two decades; "You don't have to share with the world your every thought," that includes your religious and political views.
Do it with me now, (pointing to your temple and then your lips) "everything that comes up -doesn't have to come out!" Again, my friend and colleague Valorie would be so proud to learn that she is also "influencing the next generation!"
Hang in there Shea; “this too shall pass!” I only wish you the best of luck in all of your future endeavors.
CLICK HERE FOR SHEA ALLEN'S EXPLANATION ON "INSIDE EDITION"