ESPN throws penalty flag on some of reporters’ personal tweets

The tech magazine Fast Company posted a blog Wednesday about cable sports giant ESPN putting the clamps down on its reporters’ personal use of Twitter.

It came to light when of the network’s veteran NBA writers, Ric Bucher, tweeted the news. He went on to say in a follow-up tweet that talking about vacation of car shopping is probably OK, but informal NBA chatter isn’t acceptable.

As the blogger, Kit Eaton, points out the network is 100 percent within its rights to monitor and direct the online traffic of its employees. Particularly in professional realms where non-compete agreements and intellectual property issues may arise, it’s wise for businesses to protect their interests.

The thing that is puzzling to Eaton, me, and probably many other SportsCenter devotees is this move seems opposed to the corporate culture ESPN has traditionally projected.

Dating back to the “Big Show” days of the early ’90s when Keith Olbermann and Dan Patrick made SportsCenter a sports television staple, anchors and reporters demonstrating personalities beyond a staid delivery of the news have been central to the network’s success. Twitter’s design promoting rapid-fire quips would seem to gel perfectly with the ESPN approach.

It would be easy to say that the move is a power grab by Disney, which owns the network. I won’t speculate that theory; I don’t work there and know the inner workings of management.

My hope is that the Twitter censorship is not the leading edge of a larger effort to tamp down the enthusiasm the network often presents for the stories it covers.

 

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