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The E.W. Scripps Company, which owns several newspapers and television stations throughout the U.S., recently issued a Social Media Policy to their employees. You've heard of helicopter parents; meet helicopter executives.

The policy threatens discipline, including termination, for those who do not follow the policy. Here are some of the main points:

  • Even though it is a personal account, you are a representative of Scripps and should be aware of how your actions impact the brand and credibility of all of our business units.

  • The primary purpose of a personal account is for employees to connect with friends or others with similar interests that aren't work related.

  • A personal account should focus on your personal life.

  • The account and any ongoing activity are subject to approval, monitoring, editing and modification by Scripps.

  • Scripps must be the administrator and owner of all professional accounts.

  • Your professional account is the company's property and the name and contents remain company property if you leave Scripps. Scripps reserves the right to edit, monitor, promote or cancel a professional account.

  • Break news on your professional account. Scripps content (videos or text) created for work purposes, other than proprietary, confidential nonpublic financial information, may be posted on a personal account before it is published or broadcast only with permission of a supervisor.

I think this policy was a bad idea, but I agree with a lot of what it encourages. What bothers me is the lack of trust Scripps has for its employees.

I attended a social media meetup this week that sort of morphed into a roundtable discussion about how my generation uses social media. Social media stupidity has become a way to weed out job candidates. One attendee talked about the graphic photo albums her young friend had on Facebook -- "The Titty Gallery," she called it.

The stigma that all 20-somethings are careless when it comes to social media is unfair. Not every 20-something is putting up semi-nude pics on Facebook and not every 20-something has the self-awareness of LeBron James.

Many of us realize that everything we write online is accessible - yes, even on Facebook. I've never written anything that I would be ashamed for my mom to read. Photos of me with an alcoholic beverage - gasp! - are out there, but I'm not ashamed of those photos. I am of legal age, and I do indulge in the occasional adult beverage. If a potential employer or my current employer is not OK with that, then that is no place that I want to work.

I'm also aware that I am a brand, which is certainly the case for all journalists. A couple of the links I will post this week focus on branding oneself. One's own brand is extremely important in journalism, more so than most professions.

Scripps is aware of this, and they're scared of it too. They're probably scared of my generation, which is the reason for such a Social Media Policy. What they are restricting - intentionally or not - is the ability for their employees to show any sort of personality with their social media accounts. Most readers, my generation in particular, enjoys a little personality, a little color.

To their credit, Scripps included this bit in the memo: "Talk to your social media audience like you would talk to real people in professional situations. Avoid overly dull or "composed" language. Don't be afraid to bring in your own personality." Unfortunately, the Big Brother environment that Scripps is pushing will limit that.

At Red Nova Labs, our executives have taken the opposite approach. As you browse our Team page, you will see that each RNL employee's Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn accounts are linked to. Everyone also has the opportunity to blog, to be heard, to show their personality.

Our CMO Carrie Royce has told me that once upon a time she would have rather digested mouse droppings than give her employees such freedom. But what Carrie has come to realize is that the Red Nova Labs brand is linked to the brand of every member of our team, and that vibe that we have put out there is we like to have fun. Restricting our freedom would be stunting our creativity.

Onto the (uncensored, wahoo!) links…

Thanks for reading. If you come across a sweet link, please send it my way (CJ Moore@rednovalabs.com).


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