By Todd Humber
It’s been a while since we had an epic resignation.
Over the years, I’ve dedicated space in this column to the likes of Stephen Slater, the JetBlue employee who quit his job by opening the plane door and sliding down an emergency chute to unemployment.
And there was the grocery store worker at Whole Foods in Toronto who added a new chapter when he sent his resignation letter to the entire company. The 2,300 word diatribe was posted on Gawker.com, and was viewed hundreds of thousands of times. (You can read his entire diatribe on Gawker. As resignation letters go, it’s a doozy.)
Then there was Marina Shifrin, an American who worked at Next Media Animation in Taiwan. She produced a slick YouTube video to let her boss know she was headed for the door. It has now been viewed more than 18 million times.
Well, the dry spell is over thanks to Charlo Greene, a 26-year-old reporter at KTVA, a CBS television affiliate in Anchorage, Alaska. She joined the epic resignation hall of fame when she resigned live on air on Sunday night.
Greene had just wrapped up a story on the Alaska Cannabis Club when she dropped this bombshell on her bosses, colleagues and viewers: “Everything you’ve heard is why I, the actual owner of the Alaska Cannabis Club, will be dedicating all my energy toward fighting for freedom and fairness, which begins with legalizing marijuana here in Alaska,” she said.
Then she dropped an F-bomb, and quit — walking off screen. The stunned anchor was left to apologize and try to pick up the pieces.
Greene is no folk hero. Her stunt was not only unprofessional — she broke one of the cardinal rules of journalism by reporting on a story with a clear conflict of interest — it was also inconsiderate to her co-workers and her employer.
But she was unapologetic.
“Are we talking about it, or not, because of what I did. Period,” she told the Associated Press. “It always goes back to the issue.”
As for the conflict of interest angle, Greene said she fact checked her stories and was unbiased about it in her role as a reporter, according to AP.
Bert Rudman, the news director at KTVA, apologized for Greene’s behaviour in a statement.
“By now many of you have seen one of our reporters use inappropriate language and quit her job during Sunday night’s newscast,” it reads. “We apologize. In addition, she had a personal and business stake in the issue she was reporting, but did not disclose that interest to us. This betrayed the basic bedrock of responsible journalism.”
Greene certainly sounds smug in her success of putting an international spotlight on Alaska’s upcoming referendum on the legalization of marijuana.
Her resignation may be entertaining for the general public, but it caused a lot of grief for her employer, her co-workers and certainly cast her as being extremely unprofessional. It may end up hurting her cause more than it helps.
So the book of epic resignations has another chapter. We can watch with amusement, albeit with a bit of guilt for the damage she’s done to her employer and her profession — not to mention her colleagues who are left to pick up the pieces.
Warning: Video contains graphic language.