ESPN to School Employees on Coverage of Political and Social Issues, Social Media Policy After Next Round of Layoffs

ESPN is set to send all editorial staffers and on-air employees to a training session for the company’s social media policy after the next round of layoffs, sources say.

The remaining employees will be required to attend the sessions at the company’s Bristol, Connecticut, headquarters on December 13th. The employees will receive instruction on what they are allowed to say on Twitter, Facebook, and other social media platforms, according to Sports Illustrated.

The effort seems to speak to the possibility that ESPN will more seriously enforce its policy where it never has in the past. ESPN’s most recent reiteration of the policy came early last month when the cable network again warned employees to avoid overt political rhetoric on social media.

The reiteration of the policy comes after several high profile cases of liberal bias by ESPN employees. In the November note to employees, the network warned its journalists to “refrain from discussing politics when using platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.”

ESPN’s policy states, “Our engagement on social platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram should be civil, responsible and without overt political or other biases that would threaten our or your credibility with the public. Do nothing that would undercut your colleagues’ work or embroil the company in unwanted controversy.”

The social media policy also states in part, “Writers, reporters, producers, and editors directly involved in ‘hard’ news reporting, investigative or enterprise assignments and related coverage should refrain in any public-facing forum from taking positions on political or social issues, candidates or office holders.”

But the recently updated social media policy is not much different than past proclamations against political bias on social media, a policy that many ESPN employees have ignored with impunity.

The policy fell to ridicule after ESPN host Jemele Hill ignored the rules two times in a matter of only a few weeks. Early in September, Hill jumped to Twitter to call President Donald Trump a “white supremacist” in a post that earned her only light criticism by her employers despite the social media proscriptions against political posts.

Some employees have already expressed dissatisfaction with the more strict policy not to mention the idea that they will be required to trek to Bristol for the training sessions, according to Awful Announcing.

Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.


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