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Can a journalist moonlight as a stripper?

by on April 8, 2012

So many ethical questions in this story (“On Sarah Tressler: Reporter, Professor, Stripper and Former LA CityBeat Intern”) – not just the obvious one from this post’s headline. Also: Should a fellow journalist “out” her in the newspaper? What say you?


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  1. I don’t see a reason why a journalist couldn’t have a second job as a stripper, especially if the publication she’s working for isn’t paying her. Sarah was an intern who wasn’t getting adequately paid for her work, and as someone who isn’t getting paid, she has to make a living. If she wants to strip to pay her bills, then I personally don’t have any problem with her having a night job at a strip club. Stripping shouldn’t have any effect on her ability to do her job as a journalist, and the paper can’t fire her for having a job it doesn’t approve of. There is the issue of credibility, but I think as a society we are moving away from the conventional and people don’t judge writers as much as they used to. I really don’t think as many people would have a problem with this situation as long as Sarah’s job isn’t affecting how she does her job during the day. If she wants to have two separate lives and professions, more power to her. I don’t really mind.

  2. Perhaps if the journalism industry paid its reporters better, they would not have to take on such scandalous second jobs.

  3. faye34 permalink

    Well I’d have to see if I was jealous of her money or her abilities, I’d have to check myself if I was b/c if I “outed” her based on my emotion, then it’d be lame. If I thought she brought dishonor, shame or the alike to our profession, then I’d have to “out” her. Personally, I don’t care what she does in her off hours, just give the news clearly, purposefully, on time and with facts for the public’s enrichment. I didn’t like M. Fleischer’s language in this piece. The curse words seemed to take away the message. And I agree give raises for the journalists!
    I did find Tressler listed in the UH website as a lecturer with phone # and email given too.

  4. hmoriarty permalink

    I think that stripping says something about the integrity of a person. In the profession of journalism integrity is extremely important. This issue is not a moral matter but a matter of how this women’s other perfession will effect her profession as a journalist. If her integrity is called in to question by readers then everything she writes will be judged based off the fact that she is a stripper. I hate to say it but people are petty and often let their own beliefs dictate how they view other people. If readers dislike that she is a stripper they are going to have a hard time taking her seriously.

    Lack of money is no excuse for a person to turn to stripping. There are plenty of other jobs, maybe not all of them pay as well but none the less there are many jobs that could have helped her pay the rent. I am not saying I disagree with her, all I am saying is that lack of money is no excuse as to why she decided to be a stripper. She knew going into the job as a reporter that she probably would not be paid well but she still choose to be a reporter. If she wanted a job that made her more money then she could have been anything else. That being said this is not an issue of finances.

    There are certain jobs that require integrity: teaching, a doctor, journalism etc. The public has a set of standards that they expect the people in certain perfession to live up to.
    if she took her job seriously and really cared about it then she would have understood the repercussions of her actions. This is not about weather or not she can do her job well, I think she could very well have been brilliant. This is an issue of the readers. Will the readers take her seriously knowing this information about her. Will her readers be able to trust her judgment knowing she is a stripper. Will the readers want to listen to her or will the dismiss her. In journalism it is essential you have your integrity and your readers trust, often times they go hand in hand.

    While I do not agree with her publication firing her I understand why they did it. As a news organization you want the public to take you seriously and if you are employing strippers there may be serious back lash against the publication. When you are a news paper you don’t want your publication being involved in scandals. It is all about perception. If the public thinks that she is unfit to do her job then the publication is in a position were they may need to let her go to protect their name and their image.

    As for the paper that published the story: they were just doing their job. If a well known politician was a stripper people would want to know, any person in the public eye or whose job involves public service is of public interest. This was a story and they published it. No one is ever safe in their job or from public scrutiny. If you mess up or do something questionable you will be called out for it.

  5. I don’t think it was right to out her at all. So she was a stripper. So what? It’s a legal job. If she was a prositute, okay. That, I would understand, but she wasn’t. People have second jobs and, sure, stripping isn’t one of the most socially acceptable professions, but I don’t see the issue.

    Unless it was stated in her contract with the publication that she not carry a second job while she was employed with them, I don’t think they should have outted her, much less fired her. She’s a journalist. Her job is to report the news to her reader. What business is it of theirs if she strips? She writes to inform them about what’s going on in the news, not about what she’s doing.

    I understand that image is everything, but there from what we’ve seen in the article, there didn’t seem to be any problem before she got outted. Hey, if she’s got the confidence to go up there and do that, all the power to her. A legal job is a legal job and she probably got way better tips than she would have waitressing.

  6. With the traditional journalism industry teetering on demise, it does not seem out of the question for a journalist to seek a secondary income to pay the bills. As long as the journalist discloses it to his or her publication of employment and the public and avoids covering stories involving that line of work they moonlight as, it is not a problem.

    The actual occupation in the given senario is definitely an interesting question in ethics. In many societies, including our own, there is a stigma associated with women who use their bodies in a sexual manner for money. They are considered immoral and unintelligent, two qualities that ‘good-ole’ mom and pop do not want in their Sunday paper’s writers. But a journalist can be immoral and unintelligent whether they are a stripper or not. The decision to hire a part-time stripper or run an article written by one is up to the editor.

  7. 1. The Houston Chronicle didn’t want to look bad regardless of whether they were okay with her life choice or not. I am not at all surprised that she was fired. They need their readership, although I would be prouder of them if they had stood up for journalistic objectivity.

    2. I want to know how the Post found out that she was a stripper because I think that how they obtained the information would certainly be related to the ethics of the situation.

    3. Stripping does not say anything in regards to someone’s journalistic integrity. To say that it does assumes that stripping is only done by dishonest people who should not be respected. ( It is not as though she was involved in a sex trafficking ring.) Would the paper have fired any of its male employees if they were found attending a strip club? If not, then why is it okay for those employees to pay money to perpetuate the existence of strip clubs, but it is not admissible for a woman to work in one? Furthermore, what if another employee had once, or currently, worked for a marketing firm that created ads for cigarette companies? They would have been promoting the use of a cancer causing drug, yet I highly doubt that they would have been fired. (Granted, this is because society as a whole is more afraid of naked women taking advantage of the skills they have than they are of getting cancer, but that is another issue for another blog post.)

    4. Do I think it was wise of her to make this decision considering she has a job in the public eye? No. She should consider her other jobs the way she should consider her Facebook page. She should realize why the public may take an interest in her life outside of the paper, and judge her reporting accordingly. It may be unfair but it the reality. If you wish to work in the public eye, you must exist in the public eye. Do I hope that someday this is not the case? Certainly.

  8. Being may be a professional job but it is an ethical one. Journalists are required to be extremely ethical, so a journalist who is or was a stripper is tainted. A majority of the public readers who finds out will be disappointed in the corporation that hired the stripper. It is a huge dilemma but sometime you can make things easier but not tempting the fire. Hiring a stripper in any type of job is kind of a taboo. I personally don’t mind if some one is a stripper – I have been to a strip club before, but It is kind of difficult to imagine a stripper journalist. It comes down to morals at the end of the day. I understand why anybody will get fired for that.

  9. Being a stripper*

  10. I did not find anything wrong with the fact that she is a stripper. She is a very accomplished young women who is using her assets (mind and body) to her advantage. I think it was un fair and also unethical for the chronicle to let Tessler go because of her 2nd job, I also think it was a bad buisness choice. The chronicle should have considered the amount of readers they have that may be strippers, or former strippers who worked in the profession to pay their way through college. By firing Tessler I believe the chronicle is making a public statement that they do not trust, nor accept strippers.

  11. Very interesting story. I don’t think she should be judged for being a stripper as far as how good of a journalist she is, but the truth is, I think most people would judge her in her field for being one. I can understand that the Chronicle doesn’t want to equate her stripper job with their paper, but that is only because its been made public that she is one! Otherwise they never would have known and as long as its not affecting her work, I don’t see why it matters.

    Who is to say its unprofessional to be a stripper? Or that you can’t be both a journalist and a stripper and do both of your jobs well?

    There is no contract or law that says if you work here you can’t work at other places. I disagree with the Chronicles decision to fire her. If she is as smart and good at what she does as the article says, then why lose a great staff member over that?

    Could she temporarily lose credibility by some people out there because she is a stripper? Possibly. I don’t agree, but possibly yes. Could she lose readers because of this? Maybe, but I think it would blow over.

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