Like it or not, what you say on social media could have serious implications in your professional career. Case in point, WTAE-TV new anchor Wendy Bell was fired for inflammatory comments she wrote on her Facebook page, reports The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
In a now-deleted Facebook post, Bell opined on a mass shooting in Wilkinsburg, Pennsylvania that took the lives of six people. Before any arrest were made or announced, Bell took to her Facebook page and said you don’t have to be a “criminal profiler to draw a mental sketch of the killers” behind the shooting. Bell described the gunmen as “young black men, likely in their teens or early 20s.” She went on to say that “they have multiple siblings from multiple fathers and their mothers work multiple jobs” and that the men “have been in the system before.”
Bell continued her informal op-ed, which also talked about a SouthSide Works restaurant worker who is a young African-American man and whose manager Bell called in order to praise the young man. “I wonder how long it had been since someone told him he was special,” wrote Bell.
Even though some were supportive of Bell and her post, particularly that last bit, others took issue with the racist undertone they believe to exist underneath her descriptions of the pair of suspects.
For reference, the suspects have not been identified or arrested, though the Allegheny County District Attorney announced authorities have identified possible suspects in the shooting.
Bell has since removed the post and apologized for it. “I now understand that some of the words I chose were insensitive and could be viewed as racist,” reads part of the apology. “I regret offending anyone. I’m truly sorry.” Unfortunately for Bell, the apology was not enough for her to keep her job at WTAE-TV, with the station’s parent company, Hearst Television, recently announcing her firing.
“WTAE has ended its relationship with anchor Wendy Bell,” reads the statement. “Wendy’s recent comments on a WTAE Facebook page were inconsistent with the company’s ethics and journalistic standards.”
However, not everyone was pleased with Bell’s firing, with a Facebook page created for the purpose of encouraging WTAE-TV to bring Bell back into the fold. Bell has yet to issue a comment since her firing, though we wouldn’t be surprised if she waited until some of this blows over first.