Unfettered Tweeting Strikes Out at ESPN

August 5, 2009 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - Sports media company ESPN has issued a 12-part company policy about employee use of social networking Web sites such as Twitter.

The company has barred on-air talent, reporters, and writers from having sports-related blogs or Web sites and ordered the employees to get a supervisor’s approval to discuss sports on any social networking sites, the New York Times reported.

ESPN workers are restricted from discussing internal policies or detailing how stories are “reported, written, edited or produced,” on a social network site.

“The first and only priority is to serve ESPN-sanctioned efforts, including sports news, information and content,” the guidelines state. Violating the policy could leave workers open to suspension or dismissal.

“Assume at all times you are representing ESPN,” the company policy states. “If you wouldn’t say it on the air or write it in your column, don’t tweet it.”

“We’ve been in the social networking space for a long time, and will continue to be there,” Chris LaPlaca, an ESPN spokesman, told the newspaper. “But we want to be smarter about how we do it.”

LaPlaca said ESPN will soon deploy modules to simultaneously link ESPN employees’ tweets and other social networking feeds to various of the company’s Web sites so that users not on a social network site can still access the information.

“The key phrase is write it once, publish it everywhere,” LaPlaca told the Times.

A copy of the ESPN memo is available here .