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ESPN’s Social Media Guidelines

The following was shared with ESPN employees by President John Skipper this afternoon.

I want to re-post a portion of a note to the company I sent on September 15th:

I want to remind everyone about fundamental principles at ESPN.

ESPN is about sports. Last year, we broadcast over 16,000 sports events. We show highlights and report scores and tell stories and break down plays.

And we talk about sports all day every day. Of course, sports is intertwined with society and culture, so “sticking to sports” is not so simple. When athletes engage on issues or when protests happen in games, we cover, report and comment on that. We are, among other things, the largest, most accomplished and highly resourced sports news organization. We take great pride in our news organization.

We have programs on which we discuss and even debate sports, as well as the issues that intersect with sports. Fans themselves love to debate and discuss sports.

ESPN is not a political organization. Where sports and politics intersect, no one is told what view they must express.

At the same time, ESPN has values. We are committed to inclusion and an environment of tolerance where everyone in a diverse work force has the equal opportunity to succeed. We consider this human, not political. Consequently, we insist that no one be denigrated for who they are including their gender, ethnicity, religious beliefs or sexual identity.

We have issues of significant debate in our country at this time. Our employees are citizens and appropriately want to participate in the public discussion. That can create a conflict for our public facing talent between their work and their personal points of view. Given this reality, we have social media policies which require people to understand that social platforms are public and their comments on them will reflect on ESPN.

The social media policies referenced in my note above were implemented in 2011. Given recent events, I have been engaged with a number of our colleagues, including journalists, editors, producers, as well as content and communications executives, to re-examine those guidelines. As a result of that work, we are today releasing updated Social Media and Political & Social Issues editorial guidelines.

The most important principles have not changed. Most profoundly, they reflect our continued commitment to journalism and our focus on sports.

While this was a collective effort, the principal author of the revisions was Kevin Merida. Our thanks to him, as well as all those who collaborated on it. The ongoing management of these guidelines will reside with the content team under Connor Schell’s leadership. Rob King, Kevin Merida, Laura Gentile and Rob Savinelli will serve as the principal stewards of that effort.

I ask that we all work together to ensure that we produce the highest quality sports content for fans, and to assure that we do so in an environment of uncompromised journalistic standards.


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