To me, nothing says "we're old and dumb and don't let anyone under the age of 40 make decisions around here" quite like a social media restriction.
You've probably read by now about how the Washington Huskies Athletic Department not only still has a social media policy but actually enforces it.
Through a discussion with a source inside UW, they make the usual claims. This is a situation for credentialed journalists only and it's a way for them to control what those unassociated with the university report in the hopes that fans and others will look more towards University sources for news and updates.
I am quoting, "My source laughed and said that he wouldn’t be surprised to see more universities taking UW’s lead on social media policy regarding credentialed journalists."
You know who else thinks like that? Stodgy executives in the year 2009.
UW's lead? Does Washington live in a magical dream world where this scenario wasn't played out a dozen times over by pro teams and colleges over the last five years?
I come at this story from two perspectives. As a Syracuse Orange blogger who has weaseled his way into access with Syracuse University Athletics. And as a Seattle resident. Both of these perspectives are laughing their balls off right now.
As a Syracuse blogger, I'm fortunate enough to have been granted credentials for both Syracuse basketball and football games. Our intrepid correspondent Jeremy Ryan then goes to those games, sits in the pressbox, covers the post-game press conferences and speaks with coaches and players. All the while he tweets to his heart's content, TNIAAM readers and Syracuse fans get pertinent info, SU Athletics connects with their consumers and everyone goes home happy.
Jeremy has never received any restrictions from SU when it comes to social media. And frankly, unless he was sitting in the pressbox tweeting pictures of Brent Axe's bare butt, I can't imagine why he would.
Syracuse still gets to promote their wares through @Cuse and the various team-related Twitterfeeds and Facebook pages. Syracuse fans are aware of them and use them. But Syracuse fans also aren't dolts. They know that what they get from a University source isn't the whole story or all the information they need. You'd have to think so little of your fanbase and alumni's brain capacity to assume that getting information through your University's social media feeds is enough. I mean, that's how soulless corporations think.
Oh, what's that, University of Washington? You wanted to say something?
UW doesn’t want its own social engagement trumped. Their social media directory is incredibly dense: Instead of shutting out the media, UW has already beaten them to the punch with regard to social, live coverage, in-game tweeting, etc. etc. ad nauseam. Further, their fans already know where to go to get these live updates and usually turn there first, making any credentialed media coverage kind of redundant in the end.
On the flip side, let me talk as a Seattle resident. I could get to Washington's campus in fifteen minutes, so I'm well aware of what's going on there as well as the rest of the city. As I'm sure you've heard, we don't have an NBA team anymore. There's the Seattle Storm, but, c'mon. The Seattle University Redhawks also play at Key Arena but, again, c'mon.
That should make Washington Huskies basketball the talk of the town. And judging by the way Washington wants to limit journalist coverage of the program, they must be dominating and saturating the market.
I can tell you unequivocally, they are not.
I listen to Seattle sports talk radio every day. The amount of talk about Huskies basketball compared to the Seahawks, Huskies football and even the Sounders is minimal.
I sit in coffee shops all day and listen to other people's conversations (creepy). I hear people talk about the Seahawks, Sounders and Mariners all the time. I don't think I've ever heard anyone talk about Husky basketball.
Actually, I take that back. The only times I hear people talk about Huskies basketball, it's because the tickets are too expensive and the team is losing.
So that's why I'm so confused as to why a sports program would want to LIMIT coverage in a market in which they're already barely getting any. If someone like me, a huge sports fan that lives in the immediate area but doesn't go out of his way to follow Husky Athletics, is supposed to be your target market, how the hell are you going to reach me when you're limiting what the Seattle Times can tweet about you?
At the end of the day, this is just one more in a long line of kneejerk, short-sighted moves by old people who don't understand a new technology. I mean, I hope so. If I find out that a bunch of twenty-somethings are behind this, I'm burning down Red Square tomorrow.
What's funny is that if Washington is really concerned with journalists tweeting too much during games, Twitter already solved the problem for them. Twitter jail. I should know, I've been there a few times during Syracuse games. Thank goodness I don't cover Washington basketball (for more reasons than just that one).
The only thing I really want to know is, does Washington employ someone to sit there and count the number of tweets from journalists during the game and then snitch on them if they go over? Cause that sounds like the saddest job in the world.