A pair of incidents involving television personalities – a news anchor in La Crosse, Wis., and a meteorologist in Shreveport, La. – has resulted in two different outcomes involving the use of social media to address critics. In the first case,
WKBT-TV news anchor Jennifer Livingston took to the airwaves Oct. 2 to respond to an email from a male viewer who criticized her weight and said she was a bad role model for young children. She earned multitudes of praise for her actions. In the second case, meteorologist Rhonda A. Lee at KTBS-TVwrote a civilized, measured response Oct. 6 to a Facebook post from a male viewer that criticized her short hairstyle. (Part of the email read: “the black lady that does the news is a very nice lady. the onlt [sic] thing is she needs to wear a wig or grow some more hair.”) She was fired from her job for violating the station’s unofficial social media policy. Were both women within their rights to respond to their critics, and should they have been praised or punished for their responses?