Newspaper Puts Reporter On Leave For Posting Link To Article About His Employer On Facebook

from the the-stupidity.-it-burns. dept

We've mocked various newspapers for their ridiculous "social media policies" in the past -- which often try to limit how reporters engage with the community. The whole notion seems backwards. But now one newspaper -- the Colorado Gazette -- has taken things to ridiculous extremes: putting reporter Barrett Tryon on administrative leave for posting a link to a news story about his own newspaper on Facebook. Apparently, the Colorado Gazette's parent company, Freedom Communications, was purchased by a company called 2100 Trust. Soon after that happened, the LA Times reported that the company expected to spin off some of the smaller newspapers, including the Gazette. Given all of this, Tryon posted the following to his Facebook page:
The text is a direct quote from the LA Times. The "content director" for the Gazette apparently told Tryon that he had to take down the status update, saying he needed to "remove it per our social media policy which you signed upon employment." The claim was that "this does not meet our standards of factual information" and thus was "perpetuating rumor..."

This is, of course, crazy. Tryon, rightly, pushed back and refused, and there was some back and forth (detailed at that link above) eventually leading to a "referral to human resources" for possible disciplinary action. Tryon, reasonably worried, sought to bring his lawyer to the meeting. However, HR told him that the original meeting was cancelled, and that since the company's own lawyer couldn't be there it would be "one-sided" for him to bring his own lawyer. Instead... they placed him on administrative leave, despite no actual meeting or chance to hear his side of the story.

Yes, the end result is that a reporter for a newspaper has basically been suspended from his job for the sin of posting a link to a credible news source about something that was happening with his own company. And people wonder why these kinds of newspapers are having trouble staying in business (or attracting top talent). Who would ever want to work for this newspaper?

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  1. icon
    Brent (profile), 15 Jun 2012 @ 9:28am

    'i know someone' that works for a newspaper and over the past few years, her stories about the paper's attempts to stay relevant and to stay profitable have been pretty entertaining. I always tell her that her company should be a case study for what NOT to do when revenues are declining rapidly. She's in sales and the company has reduced the primary incentive to sell (commissions) as well as eliminating any possibility of it being a 'real' job since they also took away her base salary. In a field where advertising sales are rapidly declining, they base her job performance on 'new clients that pay' instead of overall sales and refuse bonuses for reaching 140% of her quarterly sales goal b/c she didn't get 5 new customers (but got existing customers to spend more). Then the final blow came when they tried to make her sign a non-compete agreement that would prevent her from working in the 'media' industry for 2 years after leaving that employer (either involuntarily or by choice). They apparently thought that would keep their employees loyal..but since she didn't have to sign one during her first 14 years there, she left.

    I have no sympathy for the current state of the print news industry as its clear that their big business mentality (in this case at least) has kept them separate from the reality in which their customers live. Sounds like some other industries commonly featured on this site...

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