Thursday, August 6, 2009

ESPN Drops The Twitter Hammer (Updated At Bottom Of Page)


When emails begin to appear in clumps and most of them are from folks connected with ESPN, there is usually a theme. This time, the message was not good for NASCAR fans and the timing could not be worse.

ESPN has dropped the hammer on NASCAR reporters, anchors and production staff using Twitter. Unfortunately, they have done it during one of the most critical times of the NASCAR on ESPN season.

Throughout this year, ESPN's NASCAR efforts have been better off due in no small part to the contributions of many ESPN folks who use Twitter on a regular basis. Ryan McGee, Marty Smith, Mike Massaro, Shannon Spake and even Allen Bestwick all use this form of social media to present a mix of professional and personal messages.

This often drove Twitter users to the ESPN.com website to follow-up on a message or a link that had been posted. The entire idea of Twitter was to allow the closest thing to a short conversation to be sent anywhere to anyone who wanted to listen.

Here are some of the new guidelines ESPN presented to cast members in a recent memo:

ESPN regards social networks such as message boards, conversation pages and other forms of social networking such as Facebook and Twitter as important new forms of content. As such, we expect to hold all talent who participate in social networking to the same standards we hold for interaction with our audiences across TV, radio and our digital platforms.

This applies to all ESPN Talent, anchors, play by play, hosts, analysts, commentators, reporters and writers who participate in any form of personal social networking that contain sports related content.

Specific Guidelines
· Personal websites and blogs that contain sports content are not permitted
· Prior to engaging in any form of social networking dealing with sports, you must receive permission from the supervisor as appointed by your department head
· ESPN.COM may choose to post sports related social media content
· If ESPN.com opts not to post sports related social media content created by ESPN talent, you are not permitted to report, speculate, discuss or give any opinions on sports related topics or personalities on your personal platforms
· The first and only priority is to serve ESPN sanctioned efforts, including sports news, information and content
Assume at all times you are representing ESPN
If you wouldn't say it on the air or write it in your column, don't tweet it
Exercise discretion, thoughtfulness and respect for your colleagues, business associates and our fans
· Avoid discussing internal policies or detailing how a story or feature was reported, written, edited or produced and discussing stories or features in progress, those that haven't been posted or produced, interviews you've conducted, or any future coverage plans.
· Steer clear of engaging in dialogue that defends your work against those who challenge it and do not engage in media criticism or disparage colleagues or competitors
· Be mindful that all posted content is subject to review in accordance with ESPN's employee policies and editorial guidelines
· Confidential or proprietary company information or similar information of third parties who have shared such information with ESPN, should not be shared
Any violation of these guidelines could result in a range of consequences, including but not limited to suspension or dismissal.


How about that for a wake-up call? Click here for a link to Richard Sandomir's column in the New York Times on this issue. Click here to read ESPN's entire memo on the subject in full courtesy of the NBCSports.com website.

Just how this will affect the NASCAR on ESPN gang is about to be seen in two days. Normally, the Tweeting begins as the various anchors, reporters and production folks start their journey to the race. The biggest volume is over the weekend, when NASCAR fans are kept informed of stories, issues and just how far Marty Smith went on his daily run.

As someone who is tremendously interested and involved in social media, I follow probably 50 Twitter accounts of people and sports information directly tied to ESPN. Ironically, one of my favorites is a social networking manager at ESPN in Bristol, CT. My days of her updates on sports-related new media topics may have come to a sudden end.

"Today is a landmark day for social media, but for all the wrong reasons," says Jennifer Van Grove at the social media site Mashable.com. "It would appear that the network is showing poor judgment and exposing to the world the fact that they have no idea that social media is all about relationship building." Click here for her full column.

Chris LaPlaca at ESPN is a great guy and has been a spokesman for the company for over 25 years. "We’ve been in the social networking space for a long time and will continue to be there," said LaPlaca. “But we want to be smarter about how we do it. The key phrase is write it once, publish it everywhere.”

Ultimately, ESPN's goal is to publish one piece of content and then have the company's own technology deliver that information everywhere. Unfortunately, that is exactly the opposite of the very personal vibe that Twitter users get from the NASCAR on ESPN staff who speak directly to the fans with every hand-crafted message.

This issue will continue to be debated in the media and almost certainly ESPN will continue to clarify this new policy. The only way for many of us to completely understand it will be to monitor the traffic on Twitter from the many ESPN friends we have come to respect and enjoy on the NASCAR beat.

The push-and-pull of freedom of expression vs. the corporate agenda is bending in very different directions as technology continues to advance. I'm just not a very big fan of this direction for ESPN where Twitter use is concerned.

Updated: Click here for a great interview with Rob King, ESPN social media czar that talks about these issues. Wonderful journalism by John Ourand at Sports Business Daily.

We want your comments on this topic. To add your opinion, just click on the comments button below. This is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind when posting. Thank you for taking the time out of your day to stop by The Daly Planet.

91 comments:

Leslie Eaton said...

So totally bogus,and wrong ESPN is taking freedom of speech away and it is wrong!
I personally enjoyed Allen B and Marty S and the tweets they wrote.
ESPN has gone to far they are losing viewers and creditability with me,just so sick of ESPN!

Kahnefan98 said...

I can't even say how I feel right now due to the fact younger folks may read the comments, but ESPN just screwed themselves BIG.

JupiterThunder said...

Since I only added a single ESPN personality only yesterday and have none of their other talent, I'm not flabbergasted. But I can see how this could end up being negative. But ultimately, it probably won't take much to get ESPN's permission to continue your tweet. Frankly, I follow reporters' tweets for what they have to say on the sport, not what they have to say outside of it so ESPN forcing the distinction btn personal and professional access is good for me. The potential problem is that when you eat, sleep, breathe this stuff, it has to be hard to make a distinction between personal and professional. That's if you're a reporter and a fan.

Gymmie said...

:(

I loved the personal interaction with MartDawg, Allen, Ryan and the rest! And Ryan still owes me a mullet picture :p

It was great to hear what was going on with their lives that wasn't NA$CAR related.

I guess we'll see how it all plays out but while the "inside" information is good, I still loved reading about their troubles at the airport just like us regular folk, what they like to do when not working, fun they're having with their family, etc.

Sophia said...

I am surprised they did not put the clamp down before now when you think how they MUZZLE the camera work on the races.

Larry King got in trouble at CNN for tweeting about stuff besides his show. I forget the stern lecture he got, So he got a personal twitter ID called "ShawnKingss Husband" or something so he could tweet about his kids and going to ball games and such.

So it doesn't surprise me the folks working at ESPN are being monitored/muzzled.
Just another reason to detest ESPN as KahneFan98 alluded to...

I follow drivers and such who ACTUALLY TWEET back, if not individually at least to general statements we ask (They can't answer EVERYBODY but if you are not going to make an effort to ANSWER back, it's just an ego deal for many.) Some get on Twitter just to get high follower counts and SELL or promote something w/o interaction.

For those mandated to Twitter, they are probably relieved. It's such a hot trend that many are forced to do it, so I've heard both sides. I know some tv and radio stations here strongly encourage it and employees hate it or sign up and soon stop. If it's not their thing they should not be made to do it.

I've totally enjoyed following drivers who tweet about their life, vacations and share pictures. It really personalizes fondness for them and helps me to support them. They appreciate the support (least Kenny Wallace,Papis & Kanaan seem to among other drivers) and they tweet a lot about non racing stuff. Also if they have a horrible race or opinions on other races, you can learn a lot about the folks you follow!

Jen Quintana said...

ESPN knows how to shoot themselves in the foot when it comes to dealing with the fans. Twitter is about connecting with people. Fans want to connect with the on-air talent and see the human side of the reporters, not monotone company line crap.
ESPN=FTL!

darbar said...

Sounds to me that ESPN is trying to control what's being said to avoid any negative comments. They know that with regards to Nascar, they're reputation is trashed, so perhaps they're trying to control their employees and therefore control increased negativity. Bad move on the part of ESPN. Why would any media outlet who's very nature is based on free speech, try and suppress that speech? What is ESPN afraid of? Their reputation can't be any more sullied in the minds of Nascar fans than it already is. This is going to backfire on ESPN as more people learn of this. I'm wondering---is ESPN being run by those who studied the tactics of the SS or Gestapo? Certainly seems that way. Heck, the Chinese government controls access to the internet, so I guess ESPN can be considered a government unto themselves. Pretty pathetic, imho.

Luke said...

It's pretty simple, really. ESPN pays them to produce content in one form or another. ESPN owns said content.

While this is a blow to NASCAR, its fans and its personalities, the conclusion is simple. ESPN has simply extended the length of their arm of which content they control.

The old saying of, "Why buy the cow when you're getting the milk for free" applies here. They are "scared" of two things. a) Lower traffic from people getting information through other channels, b) Someone saying something they deem irresponsible to their business.

Preston said...

I LOVED Kyle Petty's Twitter work during the TNT section of the TV deal. I caught on to it late, but what I DID catch I enjoyed.

Now ESPN will ruin that.

Thanks a lot for giving us ANOTHER avenue to NOT enjoy the race. :(

Preston said...

*Not ESPN will ruin Kyle Petty's work (since Kyle's not even involved with ESPN), but that it ruins similar work from ESPN personalities.

Dannyboy said...

Two things to remember before you yell "freedom of speech" or "Gestapo" : those issues pertain to government, which by owning the guns has the power to make the rules and enforce them.

ESPN on the other hand, is a business; if they pay you, you have to abide by their rules or you're out the door. It's a free country (for now, anyway) and a business has the right to run it any way they want.

We, on theother hand, as consumers of their product, are not forced to watch their programming, so their sponsors will suffer, and eventualy that will trickle down to the network.

Ah, yes, the network - a bunch of overpaid morons with Gucci loafers, if you aske me.

Dannyboy said...

ON THE OTHER HAND:

Today, two other stories regarding Twitter:

1) Antonio Cromartie of the SD Chargers fined $2500 for derogatory Tweets about the food at Chargers training camp. Cromartie can play football but he didn't use whatever brains he owns before putting his foot in his mouth.

2) The USMC banned Twitter, Myspace & Facebook from Marine computers. Too much hacking, spam and Trojans/viruses.

RvNGrammy said...

What absolute idiots. They just don't get it, do they? I like getting tweets from Marty, Ryan, Nate and Allen. It is as thougth we have a personal connection, though I know that thousands of other fans are getting the tweets, it feels like I'm having a conversation with the writer - and, in fact, have had a couple with some of them. A big part of the fun of race day is tweets from the reporters while they are at the track or when they are watching from their own living rooms. Makes it even more fun.

But, the bottom line is, the powers that be could care less about our opinions.

I'm angry and could start rambling so think I'll watch the YouTube recording of Kevin Skinner again. Makes me happy-cry. He is Such a good singer..... Sorry, off the subject. ;-)

bevo said...

And if all others accepted the lie which the Party imposed—if all records told the same tale—then the lie passed into history and became truth. 'Who controls the past' ran the Party slogan, 'controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.

George Orwell "1984"

:) Sometimes it's like shooting fish in a barrel.

p.s. Freedom of speech is not applicable in this case.

Anonymous said...

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAHA. This is too funny. Talk about old media not understanding new media. HAHAHAHAHAHA. You gotta love any network that makes FOX's Dave Hill look like a genius.

Photojosh said...

It's funny, the social media world has got all the management people at companies in a fuss. They know that they need to be doing it, they just don't understand what the heck it is or how to make it work. So they force the issue with some sort of stupid "write once publish everywhere" plan and watch people tune them out as swiftly as they tune out a press release.

Whatever. I'd say "get a clue" but I really don't care. All I know is that I'll be spending even less time paying attention to the Worldwide Follower than I did before. Hey, maybe they can make DJ gain a bunch of weight just so he can lose it on Nutrisystem like they tried to do with Dan Patrick.

PammH said...

UNBELIEVABLE!! Very clueless of upper management, imo.

Darren said...

All of you seem to be so surprised about this, but this is quite common.
I work for an industrial supply company, and about a month ago we had a meeting where we had to agree (and sign that we agree) not to discuss company buisness in any fourm...blogs,tweets, boards etc. It's quite simple...they pay your salary, you dance to their tune. How dumb or ill-advised really isn't up to interpratation...it is what it is.
Chad 'Ocho-cinco' Johnson and Mark Schlarath (sp?) had a Tewwt war-of-words going the other day...probably the very type thing that made ESPN say 'enough is enough'.
In the grand scheme of things, is this really THAT big of a deal???

Agricola said...

"Information wants to be free" becomes more true with each passing day. Print journalism has lost the fight for paid content, and sports journalism represents that last barrier for the paid content model. Why should I pay for ESPN's insider content when the reporters are giving me what I need via Twitter? Why should I subscribe to SI when Ochocinco is giving me the best inside scoop? If I can get Curt Shillings analysis of his pitching why go anywhere else? ESPN is circling the wagons and is gearing up for the last stand...of paid content.

Deborah said...

I don't think it's that outrageous for ESPN to have guidelines for their employees, and particularly for their reporters and producers, when it comes to social media. Yes, the memo does come off as heavy-handed and out-of-touch but once it's all sorted out and clarified it may be less restrictive than it seems. I think the point that employees represent ESPN at all times is a very valid one as sometimes people get carried away and say some pretty astonishing - and potentially damaging - things online.

Anonymous said...

First, an employer can regulate speech, that is not covered by the First Ammendment. Second, ESPN is liable for any items placed on a site if, in the opinion of a court, that person was acting in a capacity at the network.
I'm sure folks are using Twitter as a marketing tool.
It will take a while for everyone to catch up with these tools.
Patience.

MRM4 said...

ESPN management are a bunch of dictators. If they want all content to go through them and espn.com, then they should start giving other organizations credit for breaking a story instead of claiming they broke it.

David Evertsen said...

I just can't wrap my head around the worldwide leader hiding behind a wall. Bill Simmons had some sort of issue last year with ESPN and this policy which I think was the same but did not include twitter and social media. He has posted on other sites and was still posting last night. I know for a fact that ESPN talent is not allowed to respond to email from viewers or listeners and that has been that way for a while. I guess some of the more vocal fights with Schlereth and OCHCCINCO and Rich Buchers posting may have been the catalyst of it. The funniest thing ever is that they just launched SportsNation on TV which is all about social media and sports. I think they want it on their terms not ours..

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

As a person who works with employment issues, it has nothing to do with "freedom of speech." These people are employed by ESPN and therefore representing their employer with regards to NASCAR. Their employer has a right to limit their communications concerning racing, regardless of the media. Spouting off on these "social sites" could result in putting their employers in a bad light and so management has a right to approve anything they post. Plain and simple and certainly not a "freedom of speech" issue, no matter how much liberals what to make that the issue.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Debbie227 said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Doesn't ESPN know why this sport is so special?? It's the fans access to the drivers, crews, journalists. NASCAR personalities on twitter added another element to the close connection NASCAR fans have to this sport. Someone better get through to Ed Edhardt!

Anonymous said...

From @RyanMcGeeESPN: Got my first "Ryan, you are soooo hot" comment during an ESPN.com chat session. Hopefully "Julie in San Diego" isn't actually a dude.

this is an example of not representing ESPN in a good light and it get re-twittered by Daily Planet.

David Evertsen said...

That Ryan Mcgee Comment is available online in the saved chat transcript so twitter is not it. It is also not JD's fault for this, the NFL season is coming up training camps are in full swing and all of the Major Sports are stepping and fetching trying to figure out what to do about this tweet,twitter stuff. There is a report from Adam Schefter via twitter that 10 NFL teams will not allow reporters to post to twitter or social media from there practice fields. The NFL says it is okay but the individual teams say it isn't. Fans in the stands can..

Did anyone notice a fall off of NASCAR related people meaning NASCAR employees tweets about the time JD asked where everyone was during the last few TNT races?? I have seen a lot less. Am I following the wrong people?

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
darbar said...

But, if something someone does on their own time is prevented, isn't that a violation of their free speech? I can see ESPN not allowing their employees to Tweet or blog on company time, but once someone walks away from the job, how can ESPN or any company, prevent them from Tweeting or blogging? As long as the Tweet or blog isn't divulging private information, or breaking news on a Tweet or blog, how can any employer prevent an employee from any social networking? Sounds way heavy handed to me.

Social Engineering said...

These are ESPN's Twitter best practices. They are guidelines that are overreaching, but based on corporate principles they must at least start with. I think you'll see them ease off as they figure all this out and recognize that the stuff the ESPN crew is sending out actually helps the network.

You can't be a legit social networker if all you produce is edited corporate schlock. There has to be a person behind the posts or they aren't worth anything.

glenc1 said...

Sorry, but I agree with Luke and the others saying ESPN is a business. The company I work for has issued similar guidelines for us to follow--we're just not famous or on TV so no one but competitors would probably care about our Tweets, lol. It's a *social* networking tool. If a business wants to decide how to use it as a business networking tool that is their choice.

BTW...they say only 5 percent of Americans twitter, and recent research shows that a small percentage of people are doing about 90% of the twittering. For those who love it it's probably a big deal, but it really is a minority. Anon 8:23 is right...I think eventually these companies will figure out what they need to be wary of a what not.

glenc1 said...

that should have said '*and* what not'. Just meaning that eventually they'll figure out what works.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Great comments, couple of issues.

This topic is not as cut and dried as several of our Human Resources commenters make it out to be.

The nature of the sports media business is that the stories and topics are continuously unfolding.

What Twitter did was allow faster and more direct communication to specific groups, like NASCAR fans.

No matter how many Internet modules ESPN builds, it will not replace the fact that many fans now have a strong personal relationship with ESPN reporters who were formerly just faces on TV.

As Marshable said in the quote, ESPN is missing the fact that this form or social media, Twitter, is about directly building relationships.

In terms of several deleted comments, no politics here please. If you have an issue with me, please drop me an email. The address is on the main page.

Finally, this issue is companywide for ESPN and is currently uhder discussion on blogs about all different kinds of sports around the world.

This policy will wipeout the interpersonal relationships that fans of all types of pro and amateur sports have developed with the ESPN reporters, anchors and producers.

Amazingly, ESPN's new daily SportsNation show that airs before NASCAR Now is built around the program communicating directly with fans...via Twitter.

JD

Racing Curmudgeon said...

Can't say I am surprised at all.

It is amazing it took this long for ESPN to issue such a directive.

Like it or not, it is an extension of policies that news/media organizations have had for years,.

The Angry Engraver said...

Specific Guidelines
Personal websites and blogs that contain sports content are not permitted


OMG I spit coffee out of my nose. C'mon ESPN. Wake up. This is so ridiculous. Digging their own grave for sports fans, arent they??

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Jim Crooks said...

Such a loss for not only the fans, but for NASCAR itself. Twitter was one place where fans could read tweets from many of the reporters and personalities who were on the spot.

It's a shame that ESPN has taken what I consider to be a course of action completely counterproductive to its NASCAR coverage. Silencing these people on networks such as Twitter just chills any enthusiasm that fans might have been rediscovering for the sport of stock car racing.

Bad move by ESPN. I'll watch the races, since they're the only network carrying them for now, but that's all the support they'll get from me from now on. I will cancel any other participation on their site, such as fantasy sports, of which I've been a member for several years.

Sad day for NASCAR fans on Twitter and other sites.

Dot said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Daly Planet Editor said...

RC,

Try to think of it another way. ESPN is struggling to handle the new wave of social media, not the information that goes with it.

We all know the ball scores, NASCAR results and sports info.

What ESPN is having a hard time doing is limiting the new media conversations that Twitter has created.

When could folks interact directly with Mike Massaro, Ryan McGee or Marty Smith before this? The answer is never.

In big pro sports, fans have already established solid two-way relationships with ESPN reporters and production types.

While these relationships have benefitted the reporter and the Twitter users, the biggest benefactor was ESPN.

It became the backdrop to all of the on-going Twitter info. To put an end to most of that without having a technology option available to replace it right now is an incredible decision.

Many feel this was done in August to prevent much of the Internet traffic from moving away from the ESPN.com site about football and ramping up on Twitter, which ESPN does not own.

Anyway you slice it, the next fourteen races are going to be awfully quiet on the Twitter front for a lot of NASCAR fans.

JD

Anonymous said...

should reporters have 'interpersonal relationships' with fans? I thought they were supposed to be objective just as they are with athletes (and yes, I know they have friends there, but you are supposed to not let that affect your reporting.) I understand if you were doing a particular story on fan attitudes about an issue. I thought the tweets were amusing and sometimes informative; though not vital...actually, my favorites were probably about the personal stuff. To me, it appears ESPN is just trying to protect their business (ie, confidentiality etc), especially when so many others are saying this is standard practice. Not to mention shielding themselves from lawsuits. Why would they run their business differently than others?

I wonder if NASCAR and/or SPEED have a social networking policy?

Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 11:08AM,

As I referenced above, there is no current model. Those on here saying this is just business or quoting HR policy are missing the point.

It is the technology that has changed. The issue is how far can you go by telling someone that the phone in their hand cannot be used to transmit information about a sport.

The flip side of the coin is that you pay Marty Smith to appear on TV and write columns for ESPN.com only. If he Tweets that he ran five miles on the Watkins Glen track, should that be ESPN property?

JD

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Jojaye said...

Just when you think bspn could not do anything dumber than the hot mess of a production Sunday - on Tuesday they do this. Wow- they are truly are the World Wide Leader of Bad Policy.

I doubt they will change this - heck they refuse to change PxP, so why give fans what they want on this subject. Yup they are using Mr.Hills policy of Tough, fans will tolerate anything we dish out.

Only because of some links to stories from talent did I even go back to their site to read full stories. Now why bother?

Really gonna miss Marty Smith with his story links & updates.
If I want bot updates I can sign up for email alerts.

World Wide Leader in Stupid Decisions. Wow.

veriword curvalovr - lol

Wes Brown said...

I'm not ignorant enough to believe ESPN doesn't have a right to request their reporters/producers represent themselves in a way that makes ESPN shine...However, taking the personality away from their people in the field is going the wrong way.

Ryan McGee has been a great follow for not only NASCAR info, but opinions on other sports/news. Marty Smith is Twitter gold as well, as he covers the sport and gives you a window into his life.

I have to give some props to Turner for allowing the tweeting to flow like water during their time with the sport. It really put personality behind and beyond what we saw on TV. Kyle Petty is a whole different conversation, but other personalities that I might not of given a chance made an impression on me thru non-television means. In the long term making their coverage more enjoyable.

I subscribe to MANY different rss feeds from espn's site and rarely physically go to the actual site because of it. After following numerous ESPN personalities on twitter I have been directed to the site for specific articles MANY times. Just this week Marty Smith directed me to an extremely well done and touching piece about 2 high school wrestlers with disabilities. To be clear, I NEVER would have seen that very moving video without receiving that insight from Marty. Even more, I'm not sure how much I would be following Marty if it weren't for random bad country lyrics, updates on his runs, and family.

Anonymous said...

Doesn't ESPN know why this sport is so special?? It's the fans access to the drivers, crews, journalists.

The journalists? Sorry, but I've never thought as a NASCAR fan that I have any access, let alone more access, to the journalists covering our sport. The drivers and crews are always accessible and that is part of the sport -- but this has never been the case for the media, and this is a lot of hyperbole.

I bet NASCAR media can't make a call-in on a radio show without management approval, why should they be allowed to blog or twitter about the same content?

Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 11:37AM,

Happy to have your thoughts on the topic we are discussing today.

Here at TDP, we celebrate the fun and excitement of the many new things the NASCAR media has brought to the table over the past three seasons.

We also hold out for discussion topics that really need to be examined and discussed by the people who are affected by them.

Those would be the NASCAR fans.

JD

Steve L. said...

(A little off topic but shows how networks call the shots of their employees.)

It's along the lines of a while back, Kenny Wallace was called to the carpet for asking for an autograph for his hat on air on Victory Lane. Speed said do it again and you're fired. Everyone in media knows it's an un-written rule that if you ask for autographs from drivers you can loose your credentials, (from NASCAR).

But, Larry Mac can sit on the Speed Stage and ask for autographs for his little cars, while on air, and I've never heard of him or Hammond getting in trouble. What's the difference there?

Racing Curmudgeon said...

But, if something someone does on their own time is prevented, isn't that a violation of their free speech?

The whole "free speech" concept is widely misunderstood.

To be clear, you don't have the right to say whatever you want. Amendment 1 says Congress can't create a law limiting freedom of speech.

Nothing keeps an employer from limiting your ability to express yourself (in fact, they have done so in many industries for decades), because you could simply leave that job if you're dissatisfied.

This doesn't address whether ESPN's move is smart; just that it is legal.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Steve,

If the guys are doing something for charity, it is arranged and approved in advance.

Kenny was just excited and made a mistake. He could easily have done that after Victory Lane was off the air with no problem.

I do understand your point. Each network has slightly different rules because they are all so different. SPEED has a very small amount of employees, most are freelance.

ESPN, on the other hand, has many thousands of employees around the world and a very different sports agenda.

As for Fox, who knows? A senior management change at the top of that company may change a lot of things before next February.

JD

allisng said...

Steve L - That tweet (and others) by Kenny Wallace are perfect examples of the sort of thing that would get someone fired in any other business. There have been many examples of people losing their jobs because of what they have put out there on blogs, facebook pages, etc. about their employer.

Anonymous said...

This is pretty much par for the course for Disney, parent company of ESPN. The legal department at Disney is very careful and controlling. They'll sue someone for infrigement on their propery in a heartbeat and they know others will do the same to them so they have tons of rules for their employees to follow.

This is also about controlling content. They don't want ESPN viewers going to Twitter, they want page views on THEIR company owned websites. Of course they'll never invest the money to come up with something to rival Twitter or Facebook...but that's Disney's media arm for ya.

Anonymous said...

How short sighted of ESPN. Heaven forbid "The Worldwide Leader in Sports" should actually allow their reporters and talent to inform us.

Marty's tweets are pretty much the only thing emanating from ESPN that I actually enjoy. Can't wait until Daytona so we can have FOX back.

Vince said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Vince said...

I wonder how much of this is ESPN corporate policy and how much is Disney corporate policy? As someone who has dealt with Disney in the past in the business world, I can tell you they are very protective of their name, reputation, and most all what is said about "the mouse". They can be heavy handed at times, but that is their right. I don't really have a problem with what ESPN has done, but I'm not one to use Twitter, Facebook or My Space either. There IS such a thing as privacy.

But I see this whole thing as just a little bit of over reaction. I saw much of the same from companies I worked with in the 1990's when the corporate world finally discovered the Internet and the World Wide Web. There was a lot of over reaction back then too on employee use of the Web and email. Gradually saner minds prevailed at most places of business and we eventually saw more realistic corporate policies.

ESPN overracting? Probably. TDP'ers overreacting? Probably...... Just my opinion.

Sophia said...

I was going to bring up the Marines could no longer use some social sites but my post was too long as it was, glad somebody else did.

yes I know this media thing is fuzzy and limits need to be in place, but to force everything to be "OK'd" first?

Twitter is over hyped sure, much like the Internet used to be but DOES have it's place. On huge issues locally, some on City Council are Tweeting the problems of stupid decision making and wasting of tax payers money thus local talk radio is getting HUGE input from the public.

Thus adding human element to folks we see in sports/on tv,etc, is interesting/fun.
Max Papis ceiling pictures, anyone? :)


I am still seeing some ESPN Tweets today so that is goo.

It's like ESPN is writing it's own version of "Stepford Wives". Everybody must sound a like.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Vince,

ESPN has a tough situation to deal with. Several folks who left the company did so because they were tired of Disney owning everything they said and treating it as generic content.

Now, the upstart Twitter is doing what ESPN.com has failed to do for years. Deliver timely information about all kinds of different topics directly to fans in a very personal way.

Just as the world has passed TV technology by for the most part, the old style website technology is now being put to the test by Twitter.

If you look at it the right way, Twitter is just group texting. How in the world ESPN is going to police this policy is going to be interesting, especially when so many of their TV shows, new programs and Internet chats rely directly on it to succeed.

Always interesting...

JD

Sophia said...

p.s. That should be "Good" on the ESPN tweet thing.

Not "goo" though both could work depending on how one feels about Twitter, lol

Vince said...

JD and the former ESPN employees who quit because of Disney's "we own everything" policy, I hear your pain. Like I said, I've dealt with them in the past as a consultant and I know what you're talking about. In my case I chose to look for business else where.

I can see where Tweeting could be both a postive and a negative for ESPN. It's just up to them to come up with a reasonable policy that will hopefully allow their people (sorry I can't call some of these guys Talent) to Tweet with the fans that enjoy that. Like I said, I think eventually saner minds with prevail. I think this is just an over reaction to something that they don't quite know or understand right now.

peggyann said...

Don't have time today to read all the posts, darn, but I think the time has arrived to share another ESPN tidbit. Back in June, Springfield, IL (where I live) was a stop on the LPGA tour, has been for years. ESPN2 covered it; one of the broadcasters was Terry Gannon, who has Illinois roots. A regular sports writer for the local paper had a good wrap-up article about the tournament and wrote at length about the time he spent talking to Gannon. And this is how it ended:

"There was one negative, though. While Gannon and I sat in the ESPN tent and talked, he asked if I would like a bottle of water. I took one, and when we finished the interview, I headed back on foot to the media center. A few steps into my journey, I was approached from behind. 'Are you with ESPN?' a worker asked me. Ah, mistaken for a celebrity. 'No,' I said. 'Where did you get the bottle of water?' he asked. 'Terry Gannon gave it to me. We just did an interview in the tent.' 'OK, but we've got to watch that and make sure there's enough water for our people,' he said.
The World Wide Leader in Sports, worrying about one bottle of water? Tell me it ain't so."
(The writer's name in is Jim Ruppert."

Nathan Brice said...

ESPN has lost its mind, again!! They don't care about anything but themselves. It hurts seeing the ESPN that I remember when I was six or seven years old slowly fading into bolivion, as Mike Tyson would say.

Anonymous said...

The problem is when on air talent & the athletes they are to be reporting on get into a back & forth on Twitter.

Mark Schlereth vs Ochocinco is what has messed things up for NASCAR fans.

Anonymous said...

"As I referenced above, there is no current model. Those on here saying this is just business or quoting HR policy are missing the point."

Sorry JD, but I think you are the one missing the point. The 'current model' is already in place in many companies. The company I work for (fortune 500) is a *technology* company. It is what we do. Yet we *still* have a written policy like this. They have let us know they like social networking, in fact, they have asked for bloggers and Twitterers to come forward and help with new products, etc. But we still have a written *policy* to follow. It's guidelines, and yes, it is about HR--ESPN is not exempt from HR policies (and I expect the Erin A incident would bring forth new memos...like 'tape your peepholes shut'...). It's not telling anyone they cannot Tweet. And we don't even know at this point where they will draw the line. I think you are all overreacting. It make take ESPN time to figure out how much they should let them go, but I see nothing wrong with having a policy. There are bad things that could happen, like things accidentally Twittered that aren't supposed to be public. A policy protects them.

If we see Marty running the course twice, I'll be really impressed! And no, I don't think ESPN would have a problem with him Twittering that.

Sophia said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Marty Smith tweeted today:

Kasey Kahne/Eric Church feature that ran on the Pocono prerace show. Settle down! http://bit.ly/2kLkc5

about 1 hour ago from TweetDeck

What's the big deal?

Gene Haddock said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Daly Planet Editor said...

Vince,

Just so we are all on the same page, I left ESPN in 1989 to start up Prime Network in Houston, TX. That was long before all of this technology even began.

Anon 2:31PM,

Does your company cover breaking sports news nationwide 24 hours a day? The issue is the type of business (sports media) and not HR policy. You want it to be cut and dried, it simply is not.

There are full-time, contract and freelance ESPN affiliated personalities all over the US involved in reporting on pro and amateur sports.

This is the rub. What is the best technology platform to deliver the same bang for the two sentence buck that Twitter can deliver?

If ESPN or anybody else had it, they would have rolled it out and been using it already.

Specifically on the NASCAR topic, why not allow free use of Twitter through the end of the season and then put new policies in place?

Despite the feeling that "this is just business" it will affect the amount of info that fans will get on a daily basis.

Anon 3:08PM,

Take a moment to read the ESPN memo. They did not ban all Tweeting, just what can be said and by whom. Trust me, this came out Tuesday afternoon and it will slowly filter down to the freelance and contract employees that cover NASCAR. It is going to be interesting.

Thanks for all the great comments.

GinaV24 said...

Well, since I never visit ESPN.com and seldom watch much ESPN broadcasts because their "stiff necks" bore the crap out of me, the loss of the "twitter" option will mean that I won't follow anything on ESPN unless I read it here.

I cannot believe that ESPN continues to take such a short-sighted view of presenting information to their fans. I'm already NOT happy with the way they cover race broadcasts, so if they keep taking all the fun out of things, why should I bother paying attention to them at all?

Sophia said...

JD, I think most of us are concerned about the Domino effect. Some of us are following favorites, like those that share pictures of daily life or charity rides. :)

The Angry Engraver said...

@ Anonymous 3:08PM

Marty smith also tweeted this:
Lost a ton of fluid training today. Could use an IV! 10 mi. on the bike/4 mi. run in 54 mins. T-minus 3 weeks til LKN Tri. I'm close.

Boy, I really liked it more when he talked before and after his Kyle Bush interview at Indy or his Kasey Kahne one. These guys and gals were just telling it the way it was in THEIR own words as it happened.

Thanks ESPN!

Nathan Brice said...

ESPN has been closed-minded for a very long time. It saddens me to see what they have become.

Daly Planet Editor said...

There is a direct link on the main page to an outstanding interview with Rob King, ESPN social media guru. John Ourand at Sports Business Daily did a great job with this.

It really gives a good glimpse into where ESPN is coming from on this issue as a for-profit company struggling to deal with new media technology applications.

JD

KoHoSo said...

JD, I am wondering...maybe ESPN/Disney doesn't want fans to have a close relationship with its reporters. After all, a popular reporter could easily wave such a fan base in ESPN's face once it's time to negotiate another contract and cost them more money or, worse yet, take those viewers to another channel. I would liken it to what CBS does with its series of K-Frog/Froggy country music radio stations in how all of the announcers are not allowed to use a real name. Then, If "Heather Froglear" or "Antoadio Banderas" leaves, they can't be followed because CBS owns that identity, not the announcer. It's all in the name of keeping the brand more important than the people who present it. That's understandable in one way because I think everybody here has at least once seen a popular anchorman/woman or disk jockey leave one station in town to go to another and watched the ratings follow that person -- what station owner worth even half a nickel would not want to prevent that? However, in another way, it's always hard to see people treated like interchangeable parts of a machine and to take away something from fans that was so unusual, popular, fun, and informative.

Richard in N.C. said...

In fairness to ESPN (gag) I suspect a large part of this is the "big organization" syndrom - there must be a policy for everything.

On the other hand, apparently lying to get a story is acceptable (the Hornaday story), theft is acceptable (the Sosa drug test story), and being mean-spirited, at least on the radio, is acceptable - but communicating with fans must be regulated. Priceless.

Anonymous said...

"Does your company cover breaking sports news nationwide 24 hours a day? The issue is the type of business (sports media) and not HR policy."

I guess we're going to have to disagree. It's obviously not, but being a sports network makes you even *more* vulnerable to lawsuits, plus the issue of releasing info that's not supposed to be public (it already happened to someone in the NBA, as one of your links pointed out.) I found another article about baseball/Twittering that said he was sure that someday, a person will inevitably end up in court over twittering. I also think ESPN has a right to protect its intellectual (though I might argue the termm with some of their reporters) property....ust like a regular business. I think the last link spells it out well. King makes sense to me.

Anonymous said...

You made the big time - Claire B Lang is talking about the The Daily Planet and twitters!

Newracefan said...

Ok I get that ESPN would tell their staff don’t embarrass us. Even if their Twitter account is a personal one (let’s face it the only reason I even thought to follow them was because of their NASCAR connection) they still can reflect on their employers. I can understand a gentle reminder no foul language and be careful with the sexual or derogatory comments (I don’t mean the bust on your bud kind) but other than that they need to back off. I love Marty’s and others Tweets and this entire thing just blows my mind. Twitter is the only “social networking” format I even considered being a part of so color me very disappointed.

Anonymous said...

Un-tweeting-believable.

Nathan Brice said...

I have a message for ESPN. It is not anyone's fault but your own that your shows are unwatchable.

Anonymous said...

Whats up with this blog post? Why are there so many:

"This post has been removed by a blog administrator."

Did readers speak to much truth or not agree with the great JD on this topic?

drpep said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 9:03PM,

Would that be anything like the Great and Powerful Oz?

Sorry, as a poor NASCAR citizen journalist I didn't even get a t-shirt.

As you can see from the various comments on this outstanding topic, there are a wide variety of views expressed.

There is nothing to agree with, no truth to be avoided and the only things we ask are to stay on topic and avoid hateful speech.

Perhaps, you might leave us your thoughts on this Twitter at ESPN issue next time you stop by.

Thanks,

JD

Richard in N.C. said...

Yo OZ- Twitter restrictions seems to be becoming a hot topic everywhere. This AM on CNBC they were talking about Twitter guidelines and restrictions in the corporate world and ESPN was mentioned as an example.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Tracy said...

"how our technology is going to work as we bust out modules throughout ESPN.com that enable the simultaneous publishing of somebody who’s tweeting." From the King interview (good one!) link that JD posted.

Someone tell me, is this English? Is a dictionary available?
After reading the whole interview, I think this is lawyer-driven. Sounds like tortured lawyer-speak to me.

Tracy said...

P.S. "bust out modules?" Who is he kidding?

Richard in N.C. said...

JD, it just occurred to me that you're missing the big picture - where is the NASCAR policy against in-car, in-race tweeting?