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As a member of the Twitter network for almost two years now, this week I saw some news of how mainstream media is still somewhat afraid of what some could consider as the death of print media. This week ESPN sent out a memo (which you can read HERE via Deadspin) to it's employees basically stating that any news to be reported by their "talent" (if you wanna call them that) is to be strictly prohibited to ESPN.COM and their television outlets only. Basically....if you have a story:
#1- You may not tweet the breaking news
#2 - You may not blog the breaking news
#3 - You can't have or state an opinion on "sports related content" unless authorized
#4 - Avoid giving inside scoops/internal policies on social networks
#5 - Don't respond to challenges by "critics" of your work
#6 - The Mouse will kick you a$$ if you violate any of these rules.
In an age of the 24/7 news cycle where news is broke at a seconds notice and with competition between newspapers/online media outlets/blogs/etc.....how can you restrict your people to branching out into the "new media?" That makes no sense to me at all.
I understand to some degree that corporations are concerned that if you allow the people (talent) to speak their minds that it may hurt your organization in the end. They didn't hire you for your opinion on what's going on, they hired you to do what's in the best interest of the organization. Some recent instances show that maybe Twitter isn't good for big business. For example, the whole Mark Schlereth (@markschlereth) /Chad Ocho Cinco (@OGOchoCinco) back and forth on twitter where an argument didn't happen face to face...but more less Blackberry to IPhone making the discussion not private but a public event. Or the recent fine of Antonio Cromartie (@crimetime31) by the SD Chargers where he tweeted negative comments about the food served at training camp.
But why does big business fear the same people they hire? Are they not allowed to use a platform to communicate with "followers" in ways that were previously not available?
That's the kind of information you can't get anywhere else at a seconds notice. People want it now and in the 140 characters or less. If it were reported in the print media, you would read it the next day in the paper. It's the fact that you can get exactly what Shaq's (@the_real_shaq) next conquest is, or what Dwight Howard (@DwightHoward) is eating for lunch that makes this so interesting. Some may think that what Kevin Durant (@KevinDurant35) does in his free time isn't that interesting.....but why then do 55,746 people sign up to "follow" Durant and his ustream broadcasts? Why do 796,964 people care what Serena Williams is up to? Over 1.68 MILLION people want to know what Lance Armstrong is up to on a min-by-min basis. Obviously people want their info straight from the source and without approval.
The technology allows the fan to communicate with the athlete therefore removing the middle man (print media). Twitter accounts are frowned upon by professional franchises because it allows unfiltered news/comments about what is going on with their team. But isn't that what makes twitter attractive?
The fan is sick of the generic filtered response of sports....they want to be more inside and know what the inner workings are. Why not let athletes tweet their thoughts during a game....wouldn't it make the game a little more interesting? Wouldn't it give the "print media" and "digital media" more fodder to talk about? The fact that 10 NFL teams so far have banned reporters from tweeting the activities of training camps around the country is rediculous. I enjoy reading what Zach Zaidman (@zachzaidman), Brad Biggs (@BradBiggs), David Haugh (@davidhaugh) are updating LIVE from Bourbonnais. For the people that can't go, can't listen to the radio and don't wanna wait till the next day to read the updates from camp.....pull out your phone and read in real time what's going on with a little editorial here and there. That's the attraction. Information fast and easy to read with no fodder or censorship.
Companies should be promoting this service and learn to adjust to it. Promote the fact that your people have the best information and will get it to you the quickest and easiest way to read it possible. To hold "talent" back from sharing information and waiting for an "ok" from the big boys in expensive suits is just absured.
Let the "talent" be what they are....reporters who get information and make it compelling to read. That's what the people want and in an extremely competitive era of sharing info.....you better get with the program.