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Commentary: Public figures must remain professional

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Jolene Nacapuy, Sports Editor

Jolene Nacapuy, Sports Editor

On April 20, ESPN suspended reporter Britt McHenry for a week, after a video of her angrily criticizing a towing company surfaced online. McHenry’s car was towed from a parking lot in Washington, D.C., by Advanced Towing Company and she decided to take the route of anger.

In the released video, McHenry said a few things such as “That’s why I have a degree and you don’t,” “Lose some weight, baby girl” and “Maybe if I was missing some teeth, they would hire me here, huh?” The employee told her that she was being recorded, but McHenry continued to rant on and on.

Just because you’re upset, doesn’t give you the right to act in such a matter. Also, the fact that since she is seen as a public figure, she should be held to stronger morals and standards. She is in the public eye representing not only her profession, but the company. Why would a company want their name or logo on a person that behaves that way?

There is no excuse to publicly humiliate herself. While everyone watches her on ESPN, there are still people keeping an eye on her off-camera. She has been with the company since 2014 and has been praised for how well she does with interviews and being on camera.

Yeah, she does well on camera all right. All that ranting and yelling, she definitely has some good vocal and comeback skills, but too bad it is not in the right context.

McHenry posted a public apology on Twitter, saying she allowed her emotions to get away from her during a stressful situation at a Virginia business. “I … said some insulting and regrettable things.” She also wrote, “As frustrated as I was, I should always choose to be respectful and take the high road. I am so sorry for my actions and will learn from this mistake.”

Advanced Towing Co. released a statement April 17, saying that McHenry is still a human, who made errors in judgment that were way out of line.

The company has no interest in McHenry being suspended or terminated due to her wrongful actions.

The towing company was very professional when it came to addressing the incident and were very nice about it. They acknowledged the fact that McHenry was “just human who made mistakes,” and gave her a break. Regardless, she should have been punished because it is unacceptable to treat any human in such a way.

McHenry returned to work April 25, as she covered the Capitals-Islanders playoff game and the St. Louis Rams for the NFL Draft.

She was positive in her tweets about preparing for the draft and information happening during the time, but people continued to heckle her with rude comments about the incident. McHenry is showing professionalism, as she is not replying back to these comments.

Question is this, will athletes trust her to be interviewed or will people continue to watch her?

Her ranting video inspired the hashtag #firebrittmchenry, which many people took part in, hoping that she would no longer be a part of the company.

One person tweeted, “If I was any athlete that had any respect towards the average American, I would refuse to do interviews w @BrittMcHenry #firebrittmchenry.”

As a journalist, I understand the responsibilities and standards I’m upheld to. The public sees everything I do and I’m responsible for being professional.

Coming from the sports aspect and being a sports journalist, athletes are comfortable talking to me because I’m not only friendly, but professional at the same time.

People will continue to follow McHenry and keep a close eye, just in case she messes up. Though, as a public figure or as a human being, one should not treat someone in such a way, regardless of how angry you are and if you’re on camera, it will definitely be recorded and will not go away.

­­­My advice, stay professional and keep your cool.

Jolene Nacapuy, a junior journalism major, is sports editor of the Campus Times. She can be reached by email at jolene.nacapuy@laverne.edu and on Twitter @jolenenacapuy.

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