Washington Redskins Trying To Silence Beat Reporters On Social Media

from the that's-no-how-this-works dept

We've talked a few times about issues with various sports leagues and teams trying to control what beat reporters can report about, including some pretty serious limitations on basic reporting. The rise of things like Twitter has only made this a bigger issue, with some media entities and sports leagues trying to limit the ability of reporters to make use of Twitter to actually connect with their readership and community.

The latest appears to be the Washington Redskins -- a team that has quite a history of controlling behavior when it comes to fans and reporters. This is the team that sued over 100 fans who couldn't afford to pay for their season tickets when the economy went south (most other teams worked out deals or just took the tickets back -- the Redskins took their fans to court). The team also threatened to revoke the press credentials of a Washington Post reporter who took photos of disgruntled fans protesting team actions.

So, really, I guess it shouldn't come as any surprise that the team is now trying to massively restrict how reporters make use of Twitter and blogs, as the team is trying to ban them from saying anything about practice sessions. The team is so controlling that part of the "media guidelines" it gave reporters includes an attempt to tell them what they can do:
"Media does have the right to report what they are told by coaches or players." (emphasis in the original)
It's as if they feel like they're giving reporters permission to... um... do their jobs. Apparently, the team also met with reporters where it was suggested that the media wouldn't even be allowed to ask players about what happened at practice.

Now, of course, there's no legal issue here. The team controls access and can deny or revoke a press pass to whomever they want, but it seems like a really short-sighted move. In an attempt to overly control the press, they end up making it that much more difficult for fans to really connect. For many fans, the press is their main connection to a sports team, so the team should be encouraging greater communities built up around those beat reporters. It makes fans more loyal and more interested in the team. At some point, teams are going to need to realize that reporters are effectively giving them free advertising, and they should stop trying to control every bit of it, or some publications might decide to back off on covering the team at all...

Below is an image of the first page of the new media "rules" care of TBD.com:
redskins-media-policy


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    visual77 (profile), Sep 29th, 2010 @ 3:15pm

    Limiting opponent knowledge

    As far as I know, this mostly deals with limiting the knowledge of the opposing teams before the game. They don't want the press leaking their new strategies, because they don't want their opponents to be prepared for their plans.

    Sure, the Redskins have been absolute dicks many times in the past regarding fans, but this seems innocuous to me.

     

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  2.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 29th, 2010 @ 3:28pm

    It All Depends On Whether They Are Sold Out

    They can do this sort of customer-hostile and media-hostile stuff if every game is a sellout. While they have fans who want to buy tickets but cannot get them, then they suffer no penalty from antagonizing a few fans they did sell tickets to. Some of the badly-treated fans are going to get fed up and stop buying, but if those people are easily replaced, then the revenue stays the same.

    On the other hand, if their games are not a sellout, then they need to do a better job of connecting with their fans and giving them a reason to buy. That would include being nicer to the media and trying to get more buzz about their games.

    Does anybody have any information on whether Redskins games sell out or not?

     

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  3.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 29th, 2010 @ 3:59pm

    i don't get why the press doesn't stand up to the sport leagues.

    did they do that to an actor (he had a premier or something and no one was there to cover it) a few years ago cause he was always complaining that they were too intrusive?

    unfortunately i cant remember who it was, so no link

     

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  4.  
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    Marcel de Jong (profile), Sep 29th, 2010 @ 4:02pm

    I think this could be a law

    the more money goes into it, the more it ruins everything.
    hmmm needs work.
    What I mean is, because so much money goes into sports nowadays, that it ruins the whole idea of sports. Same happens in the entertainment branche, and the publishing branche.
    People feel entitled to something that they aren't necessarily entitled to.
    "Yesterday, this made me millions, why doesn't it work today? You, there, you downloading thief, give me money!" or "You there, you reporter, you are using our facts, give me money!" etc.

     

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  5.  
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    Chris, Sep 29th, 2010 @ 8:25pm

    Is it really surprising? I mean the Redskins owner, Dan Snyder, bought ever sports radio station in town just to silence the critics.

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 29th, 2010 @ 8:27pm

    Re: It All Depends On Whether They Are Sold Out

    The Redskins have sold out every game for the past 40 years or something. I think it's the longest streak of sell out games in the NFL next to Green Bay. They famously have a season ticket waiting list that takes like 10 years to even get the worst seats.

     

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  7.  
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    yourrealname (profile), Sep 29th, 2010 @ 8:39pm

    Re: It All Depends On Whether They Are Sold Out

    According to Wikipedia's page on the Redskins...

    According to Forbes Magazine, the Redskins are the second most valuable franchise in the NFL, behind the Dallas Cowboys, and were valued at approximately $1.55 billion as of 2009. Being the second most valuable franchise, the Redskins remain the highest grossing team in the NFL with $345 million in revenue during the 2009 season. They have also broken the NFL's mark for single-season attendance eight years in a row.

    And also in the records section of the same page:

    The redskins have sold out every home game since 1958

    These statistics might show you why the Redskins don't care about the media. The sports writers in DC need the Redskins more than the Skins need them.

     

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  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 29th, 2010 @ 10:15pm

    You know, if big pro sports leagues want to ban people from talking about their events...why doesn't the public and the media just give them what they want and ignore them? You'd bet they'd reverse their policies real quick.

    And to be honest, if the headline didn't mention what NFL team it was, I'd have guessed the Redskins first. Their owner, Dan Snyder, is a real jerk.

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 30th, 2010 @ 4:54am

    Re: Re: It All Depends On Whether They Are Sold Out

    When I first moved to the DC area in 1991 the Redskins got almost 20 minutes of coverage on an hour of local 6pm news. I think all four network station had a half hour 'Skins round up show. They were really good then.

    It was stunning I came from Philadelphia where the Eagles would get maybe 5 to 10 minutes attention.

     

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  10.  
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    kb, Sep 30th, 2010 @ 6:35am

    Not all is unreasonable...

    I'm not convinced that these restrictions are completely unreasonable. Despite the fact that the Redskins have been completely out of hand in the past, there is also the simple fact that the press generally cannot be expected to behave in an ethical manner, thus causing such restrictions to be put into place. This seems to be more of a reaction to bad ethics, rather than any attempt to be in total control.

     

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  11.  
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    EngineerZ, Sep 30th, 2010 @ 7:09am

    It seems to me the Redskins want it both ways... They want the media to come into practices to enhance the marketing, er, I mean, news reporting to the fans, yet they don't want any competitive information leaking out to opposing teams. IMHO, if there's stuff going on that they don't want the other teams to know about, they shouldn't be allowing *reporters* into practices in the first place. If the Redskins need to control the message of what goes on at practice so tightly, they should keep the reporters out and spend their own dime to put together some canned PR fluff, release it to the sports media and be done with it...

     

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  12.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 30th, 2010 @ 8:42am

    I mean, I think it's totally understandable. I guarantee opposing teams are looking at the local media for hints of strategies. The Redskins' coach Mike Shanahan was known for pouring over opposing team's local articles.

     

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  13.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 30th, 2010 @ 4:52pm

    What part of "sold out" don't you understand?

    NFL teams (and now baseball teams) charge you for the right to buy season tickets. They charge you for the right to actually get the tickets. In terms of the Redskins, it is a sellers market. Tampa Bay Rays are not in quite the same boat, as they gave away 40K tickets to fill the stands when they clenched a spot in the playoffs.

     

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  14.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 6th, 2010 @ 6:24am

    "For many fans, the press is their main connection to a sports team, so the team should be encouraging greater communities built up around those beat reporters. It makes fans more loyal and more interested in the team."

    Actually, it takes winning to make fans more loyal and interested. The Media is WAY to high on itself to think that they have more pull then they actually do.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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