13WHAM News, a Rochester, New York television outlet, was recently acquired by Sinclair Broadcasting. Sinclair told all 13WHAM talent it “owns” their social media accounts.
Rachel Barnhart, a 13WHAM reporter with 11,000+ Twitter followers and a following all her own, retained ownership of her personal accounts and arranged it so she could start separate Sinclair-“owned” accounts.
“You will see minimal changes in my existing social media accounts, which I can still use during work hours,” wrote Barnhart in a blog post emplaning the situation. “However, during breaking news or when I am live tweeting an event, I may share posts from my station account or refer you to my station pages for more information. The station account will be much more 13WHAM-specific. This arrangement allows me to continue reporting and sharing news on various platforms. 13WHAM News remains supportive of my social media activities and has played a large role in my success”
I’m glad Barnhart was able to work out some arrangement here - the idea that a media company can “own” its reporters’ online presences is ludicrous in an age where individual reporters’ brands are as important as those of the media outlets for which they work.