Confessions of a red-headed reporter

Update:  They fired her.  Dammit.

Early in Ronald Reagan’s first term, Huntsville Alabama TV station WAAY offered me a job.  They wanted me to become the station’s bureau guy in Muscle Shoals, and offered me an annual salary of $15,000 to do so.

The station, a UHF channel located on a mountaintop in one of Alabama’s few genuinely appealing urban areas, seemed lovely.  The money represented a 40 percent raise over the poverty-level wages I was making in Tupelo, Mississippi.  The market was competitive.  But the bureau gave me pause.  Despite Muscle Shoals’ legendary music history, the area seemed even more isolated than Tupelo.  It seemed like a lateral move.  I declined.

Shea Allen, WAAY

Shea Allen, WAAY

I write this by way of introducing my new favorite blog, sporadically written by Shea Allen, a WAAY reporter.  After doing an internship at WSB-TV, and working as an associate producer at WAGA, Allen appears to be getting her feet wet as a local news field reporter, in all its abundant glory.

Much of what she has written is about what inspires her in the world and in her job.  She likes to quote Emerson.

But it’s her brutal honesty, showing up in more recent posts, that makes it worthwhile reading.  This post is a list of ten confessions of a red-headed reporter.  The first one involves her occasional absence of undergarments.  Even if you’re not an internet perv, it’s OK to go ahead and click.  It’s good stuff.

She’s downright subversive (and on the adorable side) in this video she shot while en route to a live shot “about nothing,” while “getting paid less than most McDonald’s managers.”

Any reporter or photographer in our industry has shared this experience.  Live shots “about nothing” are much more commonplace than it sounds.  Frequently, live shots “about nothing” are stories that TV has ballyhooed in advance, only to have the circumstances — or our information — change in the hours leading up to it.  I’ve done more than my share of live shots “about nothing.”  It’s a very empty feeling.

On the other hand, her confession that she’s “stolen mail and then put it back (maybe)” is a place I’ve never gone.  I’ve seen reporters rummage around in mailboxes, usually to get the name of a resident.  Not me.

Allen’s Confessions post apparently has already gotten some attention in Huntsville, causing Allen to temporarily lose her nerve.  She took down the original post, but then re-posted it within a day (verbatim, near as I can tell) with an explainer:  I’ve vowed to always fight for the right of free expression… 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.

This is my voice. Hope it makes you laugh.

Check her out.  Make some comments.  She needs encouragement.  Maybe it’ll ramp up the frequency of her outbursts of honesty.

This entry was posted in blogs on by .

About live apt fire

Doug Richards is a reporter at WXIA-TV. This is his personal blog. WXIA-TV has nothing whatsoever to do with this blog, under any circumstances, in any form. For anything written herein, Doug accepts sole credit and full blame. Follow him on Twitter: @richardsdoug. All rights reserved. Thanks for visiting.

14 thoughts on “Confessions of a red-headed reporter

  1. Jim Grey

    Thanks — I’m always open to another good blog to read. And after your recent post about how comments have dropped off, I vow to delurk more often.

  2. Meredith Wood

    Shea is one of my best friends and she is an amazing reporter. She exemplifies what is means to go after a story, on the quest for truth and understanding. She is as unflappable as she is determined. No doubt she will land on her feet, refusing to be stifled by anyone who tries to bring her down. Her sarcastic sense of humor is one of my favorite things about Shea. I could not be more proud of my friend.

  3. Randy Travis

    Not smart for a reporter to admit to a federal crime, as cute as it might sound. And I imagine Huntsville may have a few old people who still watch TV news. Hate it for Shea. Seems to be a creative writer.

  4. JimmyD

    So, I saw another post on FB that WAAY stands for WAAY over reacts to everything. Apparently it’s true. I really hate to see it when the “press” censors one of it’s own. Nothing she posted rated firing-nothing.

  5. zeedeetee

    I absolutely agree with WAAY’s decision to fire her. Nothing against Shea, I’m sure she is a very good reporter, but she made a very dumb mistake. I suspect there’s some sort of morality clause in her contract that frowns upon things like talking about going bra-less or stealing mail. I also think any employee of a TV station that makes the station look bad (going on-air and not knowing what they’re talking about… talking bad about old people, AKA: TV news’ biggest audience), opens themselves up to discipline. I don’t feel a bit sorry for her. I’m a reporter too. I wish I could talk more openly and publicly about some of the less glamorous aspects of my job. It makes for great conversation at a party, but not in writing.

  6. Bob

    She did a broadcast sans brassiere? Hmmmm… Doug, have you ever go out for a live shot without your drawers on? When I watch the news do I now need to wonder if the folks I see are wearing their skivvies?

    1. live apt fire Post author

      The bra thing didn’t faze me a bit. Women cover themselves with all kinds of clothing, especially in cool weather. I thought it was amusing, not a lapse in judgment. The mailbox thing was a very regrettable lapse in judgment.

  7. formernewsjunkie

    Shea’s blog was creative, amusing, and she deserved to be fired. Honest, yes. Smart, no. She admitted to a federal crime (maybe), being openly disdainful of interviewees she felt are beneath her, publicly dismissive of the people she serves (the old & boring) and those who might disagree with her (condemning them as conservative). Her blog called into question her credibility and integrity as a journalist and that of her newsroom’s. Like it or not, if you are working as a reporter for a news organization, the public and your boss rightly see you as a journalist covering the news of the day and your city as best as possible. She does have the right to freedom of speech. She may have forgotten that with rights come responsibility. When you exercise your rights, be prepared that there may be fallout. Perhaps Ms. Allen’s considerable talent would be better used in Hollywood. Or she should look to this blog for the right way to balance amusing pokes at your chosen profession without condemning it.

  8. arky

    While her colleagues and awards suggest she was a good reporter, I can’t help but be disdainful of anyone who invokes “free speech” or the First Amendment in a situation like this. The First Amendment does not guarantee anyone a job. If she thinks her blog statements were profound enough to justify imperiling her career and the economic wellbeing of her family, that’s a choice she’s welcome to make and live with.

  9. Og Ogglby

    I hope, for her own enlightenment, that she realizes soon that she too will be old one day and that many old people are the same delightful souls they were when they were her age.


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