SI‘s Richard Deitsch Butts Heads With ESPN Over Enforcement Of Twitter Guidelines (UPDATE)

  • Glenn Davis

Earlier today, Bill Simmons tweaked Sports Illustrated for lagging a bit behind the news cycle. It was a minor dig, one most didn’t seem to have a problem with – including SI’s own media writer, Richard Deitsch. But Deitsch did want to clear something up about the company’s Twitter guidelines – and, naturally, used Twitter to do it.

The way Deitsch saw it, Simmons’ tweet (though, as he made clear in several subsequent tweets to people who questioned him on it, he likes Simmons/enjoyed the dig) violated the company’s Twitter policy for employees. He thought ESPN was inconsistent in enforcing their rule against “engag[ing] in media criticism or disparag[ing] colleagues or competitors” on Twitter.

So he tweeted a “memo” to ESPN in which he said the guideline was “obliterated in Nakatomi Toweresque fashion,” though still made it clear he didn’t have a problem with it, as he “supports amusing media wars/shots in any form.”

Of course, this memo constituted just such an amusing media shot, and he later clarified his position, saying he holds no ill will toward ESPN PR maven Josh Krulewitz, and that Krulewitz, though they “disagree on MANY things,” is “a good man and good at his job.” Oh, and for what it’s worth, Simmons is still tweeting.

We contacted both Deitsch and Krulewitz for further comment. Here’s what Deitsch said:

I think ESPN is often selective with its enforcement of the Twitter media criticism guideline and my tweet was meant to tweak them on that. Josh Krulewitz and I have debated many things over the years, including this policy. We’ve had a continuous discussion on many things about ESPN and the sports media. It’s a conversation that’s lasted more than five years. As I wrote, I like him and I think he’s a professional. He can be a zealot for ESPN at times, but I’m sure people would say the same about me for SI. We did talk today and I think we both agree that Twitter remains a moving target for them. Finally, I’d like to use the forum to pass along a message to Bill Simmons that he should feel free to tweet about me in the future at any time, as long as he includes my Twitter handle in his tweet.

We haven’t heard from Krulewitz yet, but if and when we do, we will update this post with his remarks.
We now have heard from Krulewitz, and this is what he said:

We at ESPN respect Richard a lot. He’s smart, well informed about our industry and a good reporter. While we sometimes respectfully disagree on issues, we appreciate each other’s perspective and enjoy the back and forth dialogue. In terms of social media, we created the guidelines to give our employees and on-air personnel some direction in this rapidly evolving world of social media . In many ways, it’s a reminder that while outlets may change, you still need to bring the same sensitivity that you would when speaking into a live microphone. The guidelines set a baseline for our company’s people in how they can approach things and what opportunities exist. Of course, the guidelines will evolve over time since the ever-changing nature and sheer volume of the social media experience is staggering.

And there you have it.

Photos via here and here, Photo illustration via SportsGrid

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