Former ESPN reporter Erin Andrews has been in the news a lot lately. In 2008, a fan who was somewhat obsessed with her, tampered with her hotel room in order to film a 5 minute video of Andrews changing clothes inside her own hotel room. The video was released on the internet and quickly went viral.
I’ve been in TV and radio for nearly 6 years. I know every time I go on-air I’m putting my views, voice or talents out into the world. People could love what I say and how I come off, or they could trash me completely. While having your work trashed is horrible enough, having your personal life put on display for the entire world is every journalist’s worst nightmare.
Andrews experienced this first hand when she was filmed naked without her approval by a stranger. Someone who saw her on TV and knew her professionally wanted the right to know her personally. I am most definitely not on Erin’s level career and fame wise, but I think you’ll find a lot of female journalists have dealt with this same issue, on some level, at some point in their career.
When I worked in professional baseball a few years back, I would find there were some people who knew me professionally and thought that also gave them the right to know me personally. I’m not talking about colleagues, I’m talking about fans and regulars who knew my name and face because I was on the big screen. Talking and being friendly with them is a part of my job that I genuinely enjoy, but sometimes these people would send me Facebook friend requests, ask me personal questions about my life, and even ask me out on dates.
Now since the stalker incident, Andrews’ career has really taken off. She became a host for FOX College Football, a contributor to FOX NFL Sunday, and has been a sideline reporter for numerous World Series, Super Bowls and even the Daytona 500. Nevertheless, Andrews’ sued the hotel she was staying at for $75 million for their negligent behavior in the staking incident (they allegedly told the stalker what room she was staying in, which is 100% against the law).
Some say that while Andrews’ stalking incident was unfortunate, she has reaped a lot of benefits from it, thus saying her suing is “bologna”. In my personal opinion, as a woman and as a woman with a similar career, no amount of money in the world would fix the physiological battles of unknowingly being record naked while I thought I was in the privacy of my own hotel room. I would never be the same person. The fact that Andrews’ has been able to still pursue her career and even be so incredibly successful in it is mind-blowing to me.
I stumbled upon a phenomenal article in Sports Illustrated by Richard Deitsch about how the culture of female reporters has changed since Erin’s incident (Amid Andrews Trial, Female Sports Reporters Open up About Safety). It was incredibly interesting (and horrifying) to me how so many women reporters take such extreme measures just to protect themselves as they go about their daily routine for their job.
Imagine being at a conference for your job. You’re there strictly for business and to represent the company you work for. Soon after that conference you learn that you were filmed for 5 minutes naked in your hotel room. Would you be able to go back to work the same person? Would you be able to walk into the office with your colleagues knowing there is a video on the internet of you naked they could easily access if they wanted to? Would you be willing to go to another work conference again? Or even stay in another hotel again for that matter? I’m not sure if I could. I have no doubt in my mind that her life has been changed permanently because her most personal aspect of her life (her own body) was unknowingly being revealed to the entire world.
There are certain things that come with the territory of having a job in the public eye; but should you ever have to feel like you’re in danger of being violated in the most personal way because of the job that you have? call me crazy, but my answer is hell no!
As a fellow female reporter my heart goes out to Erin and the respect I have for her to continue with her career is huge. As a fellow woman I am disgusted and mad that this is something any woman might have to deal with.
note: Erin did not receive the full amount of $75 million that she sued for. She was instead awarded, by the jury, $50 million.