Former WAAY-TV reporter Shea Allen's story has gone viral. On Monday, the now unemployed journalist who is based in Huntsville, Alabama, shared the details of her story with TheBlaze. Today, some new questions about her background have arisen -- elements that paint her in a negative light. And she's speaking again with us to try and clear some of that up.
On Tuesday, the website Gawker published a story citing a source (a former co-worker) who claims that Allen was arrested in 2012 and that she was reprimanded this year for cursing on the job and for creating a video package that included racial slurs and profanity.
But are these allegations true? TheBlaze spoke with the reporter again today to gain perspective and clarification. While Allen originally told us that it was her blog post entitled, “Confessions of a Red Headed Reporter,” that led to her abrupt firing, the unnamed, former co-worker told Gawker that the entry, which included 10 comical and edgy "confessions" about Allen's work in media, was merely "the straw that broke the camel's back."
Rather than one, random incident, this individual claimed that the reporter had a series of problems with higher-ups.
Explaining Her Arrest
The first strike, the source said, came in Jan. 2012, when Allen was arrested. There isn't much information available online about this run-in with the law, but there is a mugshot on MugShotsWorld.com:
Screen shot from MugShotsWorld.com
TheBlaze reached out to Allen to ask for further details and she explained that the story that led to the mugshot is actually, in her view, quite comical. While she has no DUIs and no criminal record, she confirmed that this is her mugshot and that she was, indeed, arrested.
"I was pulled over for throwing a cigarette out of my car window by an officer," she said, noting that the incident took place in Canton, Georgia, during a time in which police were cracking down on littering.
She was given a $15 citation and sent on her way. Then, she moved away from the area and said that she attempted to pay the fine online. Months later, after relocating with her young son to Huntsville for her position with WAAY-TV, she assumed that her citation was properly handled -- but it wasn't.
After being pulled over for not having her new registration sticker on the car, she learned that the infraction was still pending.
"I had an outstanding warrant for failing to appear on the littering citation," Allen explained.
She was arrested and was asked to pay only the $15 fee and was subsequently released.
"It's been expunged off my record," she added.
What followed, though, was a battle with mugshot websites. Knowing that she was a reporter and, thus, a public figure, Allen attempted to ensure that the image was taken down. She spent a total of $500, paying $100 to a number of websites in an effort to remove it.
Each time, though, it re-emerged on a new website once she paid to have it removed, so she inevitably stopped fighting it.
Other Alleged Infractions
The source that Gawker spoke with also said that Allen had subsequent run-ins with higher-ups after the arrest. This person said the reporter was suspended for three days earlier this year for saying "fu**" on-air and that there was another warning she was purportedly given for running a news package that included "profanity and racial slurs."
As for the first claim, Allen told TheBlaze that she did, indeed, curse -- but that the source's story is inaccurate.
"I was reprimanded for saying something while my mic was on that didn't make broadcast. I did use a cuss word," she said, noting, again, that nothing she uttered was heard or seen by viewers.
Allen said that she may have uttered something like "f**k, that got messed up" after her script was changed by a producer. But contrary to the story about being suspended, she said she was given a verbal reprimand.
As for the latter allegation -- that she created a news package that included both profanity and racial slurs -- she flatly denied the assertion.
"That is an absolute lie," the reporter said. "All of my packages go through three levels of approval. How that could ever happen would be absurd."
What Some of Her Coworkers Say
As TheBlaze noted yesterday, we did reach two former co-workers who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal. Both praised Allen’s work ethic and gave starkly different answers than the individual Gawker spoke with.
“She’s a good worker. When she caught wind of something … and wants to work on it, she goes all out,” one said of Allen’s story-gathering skills.
“She was one of the only reporters at my station that I would consider trustworthy get the story 100 percent accurate and to actually do the work,” another added.
Neither agreed with the decision to let Allen go, with one former colleague adding, “They just trampled on the First Amendment rights of all journalists [and] all people out there.”
TheBlaze, as reported, also reached out to Art Lanham, general manager at the station, but we have still not yet heard back to learn more about WAAY-TV’s side of the story. We again reached out to former staff members to speak further about the specific claims waged against Allen in this article and we will update the piece when we hear back.
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