Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Memos | Editor restricts Facebook, Twitter access

A reader forwarded the following memo, which they say was issued today by a Gannett paper's editor; does anyone recognize this?

April 21, 2009


It has come to my attention that some staff members are spending a lot of time on Facebook, Twitter and other social networking sites during work hours. Also, some staff members apparently are spending work time on Fantasy baseball research and other personal recreation activities.

This is not appropriate. It is not part of the job. Occasionally it will be necessary for staff members to visit these sites for work purposes, but please reserve social networking and recreational pursuits for your private time.

Please post your replies in the comments section, below. To e-mail confidentially, write gannettblog[at]gmail[dot-com]; see Tipsters Anonymous Policy in the green rail, upper right.


  1. So what? The editor is right and the employees are wrong. Maybe the company could use more slimming down?

  2. GCI in Crystal Palace needs to take a good, hard look at its clerical and non-management staff's on-the-job, personal, recreational, and leisure activities that are not even Facebook/Twitter related.

    What they're getting away with, like cows grazing in a pasture, is a sin. That's what payroll goes to.

  3. These days it's like telling copy editors to read the AP Stylebook and the dictionary at home. Or telling an artist to read their PhotoShop training manual at home. For heaven's sake, I bet some people actually get story ideas and news tips from these sites. I'm sure access is abused, but Gannett is trying to be more tech-saavy. It seems to run a bit opposite to the current mantra. I'd like to know who sent out this memo.

  4. Hmm. My Gannett boss encouraged us to use social networking sites to reach out to readers.

  5. Well, that's Bob Stover at Fla. Today. And I gotta agree with him. The newsroom is not the place to be stalking people on Facebook or Twittering about the a-holes you work with. And there are plenty of a-holes at FT. Keep it to yourself so you don't get fired.

  6. If it's not the Courier-Post, it ought to be...finally.

  7. This is actually funny. I agree, of course, that people shouldn't conduct personal business of any sort while at work. The ironic part is that at the paper I work at (USAT), top managers actually encourage us to use these sites, to join, to comment, etc. They view it as being progressive and part of the job. I always felt these sites were for morons, but I have joined so not to look behind the times in the eyes of my bosses. But I still don't use these sites. I mean does anyone really care if I am washing my car? How self-absorbed does someone have to be to tell the world when they are going to the store to get toothpaste? Worse yet, these sites are just part of the greater dumbing down of America. They contribute nothing but shallowness to the culture.

    Now the Gannett bosses created a monster and people are hooked on the idiotic nature of these juvenile web sites. Fine to be aware of trends, but an entirely different thing to be addicted to this stuff as an adult...a professional.

    A little common sense and less pushing of these sites early on might have prevented some of this. But of course this is Gannett...a company filled with contradictions. The bosses in my shop made it sound like my job survival depended on posting pictures of my birthday party on Facebook! Now that some of us do, they are all upset.

  8. This sounds like a certain local editor in Fort Collins who spends more time on Facebook than the newspaper homepage. I'm joking, but kinda not really.

  9. Excuse me, but the executive editor has to issue this proclamation??? Does he write all the performance reviews as well? Where are the supervisors when all of this is going on?

  10. I'm amazed that anyone at a Gannett property has time to look at Facebook or Twitter while on the clock. Or talk to coworkers. Or go to the bathroom. My newsroom is a sweatshop.

  11. Some of us do use Facebook to network professionally, it's become a neat avenue to see what stories other papers are posting. Of course it can be abused by some in the newsroom, but that's the same with many substances.

  12. I love the idiots who don't get what Twitter or Facebook are all about.

    It's true you can be a dumbass on Twitter and Facebook and post things about going to the grocery store or taking a shower, but you don't have to post every mundane task in your life.

    I use Twitter and Facebook to inform people about things that are actually important to people in my community.

    So let's try and look at these new media tools with a critical, and open mind, rather than just assuming that just because there are a lot morons using these tools, therefore only morons can use them.

    If that were the case, you should stop driving your car or flying in an airplane, eating food or drinking beer. Certainly there is no shortage of stupid people doing all of those things too.

  13. I first found the Gannett Blog while in a meeting with Senior Managers joking about the blog and how many times one of them had been mentioned.

  14. ^^ Yeah, but everyone at FoCo uses Facebook. You would be hard-pressed to find someone who doesn't use it during the day. And yes, she is on there a lot, but so are many of us, so chill out.

  15. This is definitely FLORIDA TODAY, as 5:08 already pointed out. It's funny because I can think of a few high-level editors here at Brevard who use Facebook during work. Bob Stover is an exception to the rule. It just further proves the point that the highest managers are out of touch with their employees and not aware of how important these online tools are in this technological age.

  16. A shining example of a 20th Century mentality in a 21st Century world. Ok, so now we're going to double your hours for less pay, and then play Big Brother while you are doing the work of three people as your fellow employees are out on furlough. Are deadlines being missed or work lagging because somebody made a twitter comment? This doesn't make any sense.

  17. Look. It's pretty simple. Facebook is a modern day Rolodex. And updating your status takes about a half a second. So if I update my status say four times over the course of the day, I have wasted literally two seconds of time. I'll take that out of my lunch hour.

  18. If I'm not mistaken, Craig Dubow is on facebook. And Tara Connell too, does this social networking prohibition apply to them too?

  19. Here's my memo...

    To: Senior Editors
    From: Worker bee trying to make a difference

    re: Romanesko

    From this point on, all senior editors must cease visiting Romanesko. It has come to my attention that many are spending excessive amounts of time reading about the woes of others. I know you are trying to avoid the same embarassing mistakes that land your own sorry ass in an embarassing situation.

    Hellllo - I can't tell you how many story links I see going out on FB and Twitter. Links that are generating your paper page views.

    If you are telling worker bees to stop visiting these sites and posting their story links there and do their social networking at home, are you then authorizing them to post their links off the clock......um can you say Dept. of Labor.

    These sites are key to reaching out to our audience, to having a conversation and connection.

    Crawl out from your 1950s hole. Can you say Newsweek, NYT, ESPN, Wash Post.

    So we should turn away and let them eat more of our lunch.


  20. Does IT have a way of tracking where you're going on the internet?

  21. What a complete idiot! This editors ancestors must have decried the use of the telephone. "Hang up that contraption and wait for the ticker to click away, Sonny Boy. This talking machine'll never amount to anything."

    That's six months less for that paper to publish.

    At our site, the reporters who are clued into social media are scooping the hell out of the competition.

    The laggards who don't get it, well, the rest of the room knows more about their beats than they do - because they're reading what those sources are talking about.

    Use the tools, or be one.

    Wake up, folks. Reuters doesn't use pigeons anymore.

  22. To 8:24. There's nobody left in IT. Laid off.

  23. 5:33 PM -- THANK YOU!

  24. 8:24 PM -- Yes, we do.

  25. 9:10 PM -- Close to being true at my site. That's ok, the MOC will save us.

  26. Damn, Florida Today has been in the "news" twice in one week. Must suck to work there.

  27. There is a guy in Elmira that has the best fantasy baseball team ever. But you can't possibly expect him to put work before his fantasy baseball team.

    What the hell is wrong with you people? DO you expect him to stay up till 1 am for the west coast results? Its all your fault for not having the scores on our sites, and as far as social networking, if pluck didn't suck the big one, maybe people would use that.

  28. U-S-A Today! The mecca for all abusers of all sorts of things. Social web site fun is a mere drop in the bucket. You have people doing freelance work there. You have employees watching TV at their desks, sometimes for hours. Some people are camped out on personal phone calls for hours each week. It's been going on for years. Supervisors refuse to police it, mainly because many of them are either guilty of these abuses themselves or just have an insatiable need to be loved by their staff. Too many managers who don't want to manage. Back when it was just annoying to be around all these distractions, I and others who simply wanted to work in peace, could tolerate it. But in this environment, where we're suppose to be cleaning up waste so there aren't anymore layoffs, it is simply sickening to observe all the goofing off that still goes on. I don't know why these people weren't the ones who were shown the door. They clearly aren't giving the flagship (or their coworkers who have to take up the slack) an honest 8 hours.

  29. 8:24, yes all IT depts are able to track the websites you go to. Some choose not to apply this rule though.

  30. You think Facebook and Twitter is where employees waste time, you really need to take a deeper look into Westchester. Some employees spend more than half the day doing things that have nothing at all to do with work.

  31. I'm an online editor at a small (non-Gannett) paper with an outsized online reputation. Facebook is the third largest provider of traffic to our Web site (after Google and Yahoo) and Twitter is the fastest growing, increasing 100 percent in the past six months. Twitter and Facebook are the new version of making calls to increase your circulation. Granted that used to be handled by a different department but in the modern era, that's just part of the job.

  32. As the memo says, it's appropriate to visit the sites "for work purposes." But too many people are not doing that. They're playing, pure and simple.

    This is just the tip of the proverbial work-takes-a-backseat-to-my-life mentality in which newsroom staffers make travel plans during work hours, use copiers to copy personal bills/papers, bid on eBay throughout the day, e-mail former girlfriends, arrange freelance gigs, etc. etc. etc.

    If you're a conscientious worker who points out what's going on, you're viewed as uptight. I've never seen a more inefficient workplace in my life than a newsroom at a large Gannett Metro. Maybe it is a sweat shop at the smaller papers but the number of people coasting at the larger ones in legion.

    Don't even get me started on the ethical violations.

  33. The same was told to us at our paper. They said such behavior would be looked at during a possible next round of layoffs. I agree, it shouldn't be happening in place of your job, but I also think it is a fear measure. The higher ups know people can communicate through facebook about Gannett without anyone being able to read their emails. Why do you think Craig Dubow and Michael Maness have a facebook account? Go check it out. They are there. That way they can communicate without any trail.

  34. Ethics at Gannett, lol lol lol lol lol. Don't make me laugh so hard, I won't be able to sleep. Gannett ethics is an industry wide joke.

  35. 10:22's got a point.

    There are editors at FLAT -- such as the Metromix editor -- who use Facebook and Twitter for work purposes. The paper itself has a Twitter robot account that posts news updates through the day.

    But there are staffers who use Facebook to have lighthearted personal conversations with each other, when they sit mere feet from each other (and can easily use Harris messaging -- can IT monitor that too?). All these back-and-forths have time stamps on them.

    Just stand up and go talk to your coworker if that's what you want to do. Or for heaven's sake, don't do it in a manner that clearly proclaims, "I am doing this on the clock."

    Incidentally, Stover is well aware of GannettBlog and its proprietor, being a former member of -- what did you call it Jim? The Little Rock Mafia? Anyways, he told staff that we are absolutely allowed to read GannettBlog while on the clock.

    So expect your hits to jump, Jim. And send Bob a thank-you note. :-)

  36. Imagine that.

    Gannett freezes the pension plan, increases the cost of health insurance, freezes wages, forces furloughs, orders repeated layoffs and increases the company workload and employees decide to fuck around during work hours. Who could have predicted this?

    I say anyone who is still employed and isn't taking advantage of this company is an idiot. I didn't feel that way a year ago, but I sure do now.

    Nothing will protect your job, so your main objective at this point should be planning your next career while getting what you can from this dying shell of a company.

    Executive management took its gloves off long ago. It's time for the employees to follow their example.

    You don't need a union to have a slowdown.

  37. at our paper we are actually encouraged to twitter. for some required. on the job and for the job.

    we have several on staff who do nothing but twitter and tweet and blurp and yammer all the live-long-day. and call themselves journalists.

    they have managed to somehow convince the clueless that it is shiny = it is new = it is cool = it matters. she has the same reaction to mylar. don't send balloons.

    seriously - clueless' chosen one = our a.m.e. of twitter.

    if only they had been able to tweet from the titanic.

  38. Every Gannett employee should make their work take a backseat to their lives.

    When Gannett exercises its cost-cutting measures it doesn't put employees ahead of its "corporate life," so there's no reason employees should be expected to do any different.

    Many employees -- particularly those on salary -- log countless extra hours when the job requires it. Why then should they be called out for taking a minute during the "traditional" workday to make a Twitter post?

    Of course my work is secondary to my life. The work is just a job. My life is my life. And hopefully I'll have it long after I leave this wretched company.

  39. There is a fine line here in terms of separating social networking technology with work. On a separate note, I clicked on the Metromix link the other day and felt eyes over my shoulder even stronger than I ever have when checking my personal e-mail or facebook account. If an editor did walk by, they'd get an eye full of Metromixy bar cleavage.

  40. Hmm, 11:25. So Bob Stover allows people to read Gannett Blog? Does he also allow them to comment while at work? So ... which do you think he would prefer his employees do:

    1. Contribute some nonsense banter to their own Facebook pages?


    2. Contribute gossip about the newspaper on Gannett Blog, which may or may not be true?


  41. Yeah, I'm a salary guy here. If I take a two hour lunch one day, its because I have work to do outside of business hours. Work family life is a delicate balance and I found that Gannett is an amazing place to accomplish that. This company has made some bonehead decisions, but I can honestly say my "goofing off" as some of you put it while "on the clock" does NOT interfere with the quality of work I provide on a daily basis.

    Time to move on to the 21st century guys....grandpa's sweatshop way of working is long gone.

  42. Maybe if the editors & reporters would get their asses off Facebook and Twitter, we'd have some news on our website & in our paper. This explains a lot.

    Go Bob!

  43. 11:25 PM -- Yes they can. However, they could care less what you type to one another.

  44. These social networks are 90 percent fluff and really indicate how stupid and self absorbed America is becoming. Here's a sampling of comments from folks in various Gannett shops who post comments. Keep in mind, these are mostly adult and journalists!

    "I hate wednesdays!!!!!"

    "time for a little nap"

    "yummmmm...a cafe mocha with whipped"

    "think I will cut the lawn when I get home today if it isnt raining"

    And it goes on and on like this. Many comments are more self centered and trivial. Yet, about a year ago I sat in on a meeting at USA TODAY that promoted the importance of us all getting involved in this retarded trend. And please don't tell me that these sites also serve a good purpose. I am sure they do, but the bulk of what they are used for is simply juvenile and a distraction. These sites prey upon people who think their worlds are so interesting. And many people are addicted to them. That's why so many employees can't resist spending countless hours at work broadcasting to the world that their new shoes are too tight.

    No wonder the business is in the crapper.

  45. There is a good point to be made about not doing anything that interferes with your work, whether it's using Facebook or watching the paint dry...or talking to coworkers about anything non work-related...or reading a book...or your own newspaper...

    These publishers need to lighten up and tell their people not to do anything non-work-related that interferes with the performance and quality of their jobs.

    This includes people talking to one another (like normal human beings do) as well as people looking at Twitter.

    So if you're going to drop the hammer on employees using the net for anything other than work, then you better make sure they're not wasting their time talking, or daydreaming, or watching the game on TV...get HR up there and watch everybody like a hawk to make sure they're not doing ANYTHING non-work-related!!!


    Get off my back. If my work is suffering because I'm playing 4 hours a day of scrabble with another Facebook user, come talk to me (as you should). If I'm doing my job and getting my work done, don't bother me for taking a few minutes to look at CNN or Facebook or ESPN or whatever.
    The break might actually do me good by giving me a break from the monotony or the stress and help me be more productive.

  46. Are we taking bets on how soon that Editor is out of a job or his paper folds. When either happens I bet he won't even know why.

  47. 11:39 PM: aaaaaaaaaaaa-MEN!!!
    Best post I've read in a while.

  48. you guys should just get an iphone. That way they won't know when you're on twitter or facebook.

  49. Those who try to justify their obsessive use of sites like Facebook as "necessary" for work, or to "keep up to date with technology" are kidding themselves! It only takes about 10 minutes to become familiar with these sites and "stay up to date". Obsessively using it to constantly update your thoughts and minute-by-minute actions is ridiculous and has absolutely NOTHING to do with work.

    Papers (and news stations) who have social networking sites is legitimate and good business. Updating those pages at work is part of your job. Not writing about what you had for lunch, complaining about your co-workers and planning dinner.

    I'm so tired of reading & hearing about how "wronged" everyone has been by this company.

    Maybe if you all (those who are so upset by this memo) spent a little more time caring about and investing in your job than OUR company may not be so bad off. It’s employees who think they are constantly being “wronged” in some way, who complain about memos like this, and take no responsibility for the state of the company and their role in the downfall of newspapers who are the problem.

    And Florida Today news staff: I've seen your page layouts and presentations - you could definitely use a little more time learning design programs. Your pages look the same every day. Obviously roaming around online hasn't helped your creativity. How has your use of Facebook improved your work performance or design creativity?

  50. 2:08 p.m.: Florida Today uses Harris, a severely antiquated pagination system. Give 'em a break.

  51. http://www.webpronews.com/topnews/2009/04/22/usatoday-publisher-restricting-employees-from-using-social-networks

  52. Looks like these guys need this:


    Then at least your tweets look like real work.

  53. This is exactly why newspapers are failing. Everyone "knows" that the way they've been doing it is the right way, even though circulation has been declining for a long time now.

    While I can't disagree with the issue of fantasy baseball housekeeping, the fact is, only newspapers that wholly embrace Twitter, Facebook, etc., are going to survive. And if you think that anyone can build up an account worth a damn (i.e., that can bring in traffic) by using a 'bot to post an RSS feed as Tweets or status updates or only posting work-related items, you have no idea how to use social media and should just retire now.

  54. Judging by the vast number of comments from newspaper editors and reporters who view social networking sites, twitter, and blogs as irrelevant destinations to simply "talk about washing your car" and not legitimate destinations for gathering news and interacting with the people you serve with your reporting...it's no wonder that the newspaper industry is on its last legs. As out of touch as ever...

  55. 10:34: Bob just got a President's Ring, and FLAT just got a Gold Medal. This week.

  56. For some reason, this reminds me of that senator boob who said "the internet is a series of tubes." I wonder if FLA.T's health plan permits a doctor to drill holes in someone's head to "let the demons out."

    moron ...

  57. 7:43 -- I don't view social media that way, but you have to admit there is an awful lot of "noise" on sites like Facebook, Twitter, etc. You have to wade through hundreds of irrelevant posts to find one that might help you do your job.

    I have/do use Facebook for business purposes, but I'm not convinced it's an efficient use of time. In fact, I think dedicating the amount of time many people spend on Facebook to good, old-fashioned source development might garner even better stories.

    But, who knows? There's a place for everything.

  58. As long as employees are performing well and meeting an employer's expectations, what's the big deal? Please, everyone surfs the Internet/accesses social network sites at work.

  59. It absolutely is amazing to me that there are so many anonymous comment postings... Yet there is a statcounter on this blog. LOL, all big brother has to do is cross reference the times with the IP addresses, and the more "angry" comments will be identified in a heartbeat.

    Be careful folks...

    And I agree with a lot of what the commenters have said here, in regard to declining circulation, etc. Times, they are a changing, and companies need to keep current. True, there is a lot of inane posting to sift through, but if the post is interesting, it definitely gets my attention. I'm one of those who has dropped my subscription to Florida Today, and simply because it was boring. Plus I was horribly misquoted in an article. Offensive.

    No, I do not work for Gannett, which is why I did not post anonymously.

  60. @5:41 p.m., I believe that position in Fort Collins is now called the senior content editor.


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