WIUM Tristates Public Radio

Reporter Sues to be Reinstated

Jun 28, 2016

The Shop Talk crew previously discussed the case of Wendy Bell, an award-winning Pittsburgh TV news anchor who was fired after making racially insensitive comments on social media.  Bell is now suing to get her job back.  She says the comment would not have gotten her fired if she was black.

Shop Talk panelist Jasmine Crighton believes Bell deserved to be fired.  But Crighton also pointed out that more stations are becoming lax about what their reporters say on social media, and that worries her. 

Panelist Rich Egger agrees it’s a bad trend, one that’s probably being pushed by consultants.  He believes journalists should stick to reporting the facts and allow audience members to form their own opinions.

Panelist Jonathan Ahl said the public needs to decide what it wants from journalists.  Do people want reporters to serve as an echo chamber or do they want information that challenges assumptions?

Crighton found it interesting that Bell sued on the basis of race rather than free speech, though Crighton also pointed out the First Amendment does not protect someone from being fired by an employer.  And Crighton said many employee contracts at TV stations include a clause that allow an employee to be fired if he/she makes the station look bad.

Ahl also said people have the right to say whatever they want but that does not protect them from the consequences of their actions.