Don’t you think for a New York minute that the new crackdown on social networking by ESPN is all about control. It may have something to do with it, but it likely has more to do with fear.

Don’t we often look to control that which we fear? Think about an obsessive or abusive boyfriend or jealous spouse who won’t allow their significant other to hang out with their friends. It may not be that they don’t want them to have a good time. They just don’t want others to see what a gem they are and possibly try to steal them away. They don’t have enough confidence in what they bring to the relationship to believe that this person won’t look elsewhere to have their needs met in a better fashion. They are afraid so they block the action that could lead them down this road.

I didn’t plan on blogging about this, (only commenting elsewhere) but after posting a comment on Mashable’s  ESPN responds to Criticism and Publishes Social Media Policy, I realized that I had an opinion worth sharing with those who read my blog. So here it is, my post on that story with a few words added for clarity: 

“On-air talent already have a personal brand. It is actually what serves news organizations in the social media space and why many are exploiting it in the first place. They are already well known and people will follow them.

I don’t like what this means for writers and those who are not on-air talent and their ability to build their own personal brands and express their interests outside of the corporate walls. There are lots of opportunities that they will likely miss and that’s too bad.

As journalists, we all sign some sort of code of ethics agreement. It comes with the territory. I’ve signed one at every TV station and newspaper I’ve worked. It just needs to be applied to social media efforts as well. I have written social media guidelines for my news organization, and the key is to embrace social networking and the myriad possibilities and potential it brings and most importantly to state your expectations.

Don’t just say what *not* to do. Tell the staff what they CAN do, and encourage that.”

Those are my thoughts.  Well, some of them. We must remember that there are other news organization embracing social networking and encouraging staff to try new things. There may be a bit of risk, but someone has to figure it out and that’s exactly what’s happening.  They’re trying to figure it out… just like the rest of us.

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