Social Media Policies: The Bad

Where there is Yin, there is Yang. Where there is up, there must be down. And, where there is good use of social media, there is bad use of social media.

Two sports media outlets have recently implemented policies that are bad examples of using social media tools. This is bad for the sports journalists at these organizations, and serve as a contrast to the good use of social media that I examined in my last post.

The first organization that has had a recent slip-up with social media is ESPN. ESPN, as I said in an earlier post, is Mecca for sports journalists, and does many things well in their uses of new media.

However, ESPN recently came out with a social media policy that prohibits ESPN employees from doing many of the things that they had been doing on social media outlets.

The people at Pro Football Talk broke down ESPN’s policy pretty well. Some of the major points is that ESPN talent must get permission from a supervisor before posting information on a personal social media outlet, and also that ESPN talent is urged to use discretion before posting and keep in mind that they are representing ESPN at all times.

Putting guidelines on employees when it comes to Twitter takes away much of the point of Twitter, as it is based on originality, spontaneity and immediate information. This policy hurts, more than anyone, the sports journalists under ESPN’s employ.

In an article entitled “ESPN takes Social Media Guidelines Just a Bit Too Far or How to Stunt Your Employee’s Growth” on “PR 2.0″ by Serena Ehrlich, the point is made that the talent at ESPN could greatly suffer from this policy.

She says that ESPN’s rules inhibit their employees from growing their online visibility and reputation.

ESPN is based on its talent, and if they no longer are getting the best sports journalists to come work for them, then their viewer-ship, and therefore revenue, could decline.

The Washington Post also recently came out with a social media policy.

In article by Staci Kramer called “WaPo’s Social Media Guidelines Paint Staff Into Virtual Corner; Full Text of Guidelines,” Kramer outlines the policy. The policy focuses on being a “Washington Post journalist at all times,” and not unveiling any social information or opinions.

The Post’s Ombudsman Andrew Alexander wrote his weekly column about the new policy, where he outlined some key points and seems to support it.

The question is, why? Why are these two titans of sports journalism, and journalism in general, doing this to their journalists? How is the public supposed to trust the people we get our information form if the people who hired them don’t?

This is ancient thinking, and will hurt these two organizations in the long run. Social media, more than anything is about creating a conversation. In an article by John Mihalik called “Mutual Purpose: Smart Social Media Marketing,” he believes that conversation is essential for “engagement, and that social media can be a key factor in that.

Real conversations are not screened, and are not checked by a supervisor. They are with real people, and in todays world, with social media, these conversations are to be had with consumers.

ESPN and the Washington Post are not allowing true conversations with the people who consume their content, and in the wrong run, they will pay for it.

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5 Comments on “Social Media Policies: The Bad”

  1. Allie Rogers Says:

    That is a shame that ESPN is putting rules on and a policy on their writers! I think that blog posts should be raw, as well as, informative. However, I know when I have to follow rules of some sort my creativity seems hindered, and I can’t get my point across as effectively. I feel that there should be some rules when it comes to social media, but not to the point where it takes away from journalistic creativity.

  2. Kristen Cicala Says:

    I really like how you included two posts about both the good and bad examples of social media being used. I agree with Allie. Considering ESPN and the Washington Post are major players in sports journalism, it is almost weird to me that they are setting down rules when it comes to using social media. I feel that if journalist can’t adopt a wide open communication outlet, how are they going to survive compared to their competitors who are embracing social media and using it to their advantage?

  3. Serena Says:

    Thank you so much for including my ESPN article in your post. I am so curious to see how these policies play out within the media industry – we see celebrities embracing social media to increase their reach, why wouldn’t media employees?

  4. Jared Ruppert Says:

    It’s a shame that such big names as ESPN and Washington Post are going the wrong way in social media. I would think that they would understand the importance of transparency. Like Allie said, I feel that the stories should be raw. With ESPN and Washington Post monitoring their journalists, they are depleting the personality and creativity of the writer.


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