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FORMER HARRISBURG REPORTER SPEAKS OUT AGAINST NEXSTAR STATION

(FTVLive) FTVLive told you that Reporter Amanda St. Hilaire was leaving the very troubled WHTM in Harrisburg, PA.

We told you that St. Hilaire was leaving the station to pursue a position as an investigative reporter in the Milwaukee area.

But as she pulls her car out of Harrisburg and heads to Milwaukee, she is not going quietly.

A number of people have left the station and many have cited the work environment at the station as the reason for doing do. A number of women have spoken out and what they say is a very bad environment at the Nexstar station and St. Hilaire is doing the same.

In a long Facebook post, St. Hilaire writes:

This is the longest post I’ve ever written; it’s also the most important.

As you may have heard, today was my last day at abc27. I’ve decided instead to accept an investigative reporter position in Milwaukee, and my husband and I move next week. I’m excited about this new challenge and opportunity, but my love for Central Pennsylvania, and the family and friends who come with it, made the decision difficult. Thank you for trusting me to tell your stories, for caring enough about your community to fuel investigative journalism, and for so graciously welcoming me into your homes. Words cannot describe how much I will miss the people I’ve worked with over the last four years, especially the members of the investigative team and the weekend crew. They are dedicated professionals and dear friends.

I’m passionate about investigative reporting because it is the antidote to the silence and secrecy that erode trust and accountability. Taking on this kind of journalism comes with a responsibility to tell the truth even when, and especially when, such truth challenges power.

The most personal topics I’ve taken on in my investigative reports are those of sexual harassment and discrimination. I know from my own experience that speaking up isn’t easy, but silence is the alternative we can’t afford.

Waiting for the certainty of zero percent risk and 100 percent convenience before speaking up is the surest way to snuff out the truth. We often think of silence as taking no action, but silence is in fact a pointed and purposeful action. The collective silence surrounding an issue like workplace harassment and discrimination is a deafening act of moral indifference.

When we ask our family members, friends, and colleagues to remain silent about sexual harassment and discrimination at work, what we are really saying is, “You should put up with it. This is acceptable. You deserve this.”

You do not deserve to be called derogatory names by colleagues or supervisors. You do not deserve to be subjected to verbal abuse, or disparaging comments about your weight, physical attributes, gender, age, or ability to have children while you are at work. And you certainly do not deserve to be subjected to unwanted advances or physical contact.

When you have the courage to speak up and report harassment or discrimination, it should be unacceptable for your supervisors to react by ignoring you, demoting you, or retaliating against you in any way. It should be unacceptable to allow a work environment to remain toxic or unsafe. It should be unacceptable to fail to hold a known harasser accountable.

And tolerating this unacceptable behavior is precisely why it is allowed to continue.

To be clear, anyone accused of such horrible actions deserves the opportunity for due process. But too often, efforts to avoid branding the accused as guilty result in branding the accuser as a liar, a troublemaker, or a delicate flower who could not handle being uncomfortable. Perhaps we are the ones who are uncomfortable with the challenge to change, with the idea of reevaluating unhealthy workplace behavior that’s been sold as “normal” for so long, with the truth that “this is the way it’s always been” is a terrible reason to keep doing something. While we should always protect the rights of the accused, we cannot forget the rights of the victims to be heard, the personal and professional risks they take when they come forward, and the ways in which we benefit from their courage in braving the storm.

We’ve come far in advancing the fair treatment of all individuals in the workplace, but the continued discovery of these types of abuses reminds us that challenges remain. As a journalist, I have a responsibility to seek the truth and ensure other voices are heard. As a working woman, I have a responsibility to speak the truth and to ensure my own voice is heard, to stand for something bigger than myself. And so…

I stand with Flora.

I stand with Dawn.

I stand with Carrie.

I stand with those who have the conviction to speak the truth when no one else will.

I stand with those who struggle with the weight of whether, when, and how to speak up and share their stories.

Most of all, I stand with you and your right to equality, professionalism, and respect in the workplace.

Thank you.