ESPN’s New Social Media Policy Released; Includes Ban On Breaking News, Sort Of
ESPN released its most recent social media policy update Thursday, and the policy is heavy on corporate credibility, but regrettably light on comprehension of how quickly information travels in the age of Twitter.
• Do not break news on Twitter
This may stick out to those who read the policy quickly. After all, episodes such as this happen regularly with ESPN staff:
But read on. The policy permits breaking news that is released publicly -- it just bans "proprietary" information:
However, sourced or proprietary news must be vetted by the TV or Digital news desks. Once reported on an ESPN platform, that news can (and should) be distributed on Twitter and other social sites.
This seems to imply that news must be reported on TV or the web before it can be tweeted. Which means items like this...
...would now be verboten. (Incidentally, that's the last thing Tim Kurkjian has tweeted -- is this an indication of the policy at work?)
This really isn't a bad thing. ESPN is trying to rise above this kind of nonsense. But read literally, any ESPN employee who obtains an exclusive tip has to both vet it with a supervisor and publish it elsewhere before it can be tweeted -- which is exactly what we criticized about the ESPN approach to social media before.
• Think before your tweet.
• Think before you re-tweet.
Is "think before your tweet" a typo? It could possibly be grammatically correct but it's inconsistent with the following item -- it's also not really an element of what one could construe as a "policy." Does the WWL have a brain scanner that can detect if its employees actually thought before tweeting?
Personal Web sites and blogs that contain sports content or ESPN marks are not permitted.
Do not discuss how a story or feature was reported, written, edited or produced; stories or features in progress; interviews conducted; or any future coverage plans.
This is the most troubling part of the policy for me -- it essentially bans reflexivity. I understand why ESPN wants to ban discussing future coverage plans, but talent should be permitted to at least share with the public the manner in which stories were reported -- that's the very definition of transparency. Being reflexive -- publicly -- about how any of us do our jobs helps all of us do our jobs better. I was happy to discuss how I worked on the Georgetown-China brawl story with ESPN (on Grantland), for example, and it's unfortunate ESPN isn't extending this collegiality to its fellow members of the media.
Follow Timothy on Twitter at @bubbaprog.
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