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Glenn Halbrooks

Twitter Can Threaten Careers for Sports Reporters

By October 26, 2012

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Many sports reporters make their mark by being opinionated. Think your city's NFL team is the worst ever? You can say so if you work in sports, unlike your news colleagues who have a mandate to keep their opinions to themselves.

A photo of a Twitter page on a computer screen
Sports reporters who are used to speaking their mind find limits on what they can say on Twitter.
Photo © Getty Images
But time and time again, sports opinion and Twitter can make for a caustic combination. Sports reporters who use Twitter's 140 characters to say the wrong thing can watch their careers teeter on the edge of a cliff.

The latest example involves a radio sportstalk host in Ohio who's been fired for saying he wished an ESPN host would "get fired or die". Sportstalk hosts can usually get away with saying anything on the radio, but this obviously crossed the line for his bosses.

Last month, a TV reporter in North Carolina was accused of using his personal Twitter account to speculate that a New York Yankees player tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs. According to the local newspaper, even though the tweet said "can't confirm this", Yankees fans and the reporter got into a heated back-and-forth on Twitter. The reporter has now left the station.

Twitter issues involving sports reporters have been going on for years. In 2010, a Washington Post sports columnist was suspended after using Twitter for what he called an experiment. He reportedly posted a false tweet that an NFL quarterback would be suspended, just to track how fast the misinformation would spread.

These are three examples of why your media company, large or small, needs a social media policy, because clearly there's some confusion about what type of behavior is not allowed on Twitter. Hiring a social media manager can help monitor what's being posted to make sure Twitter is building your brand and not destroying it.

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