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

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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 30 Sep 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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