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To tweet or not to tweet draft picks before they are announced? That is the question

  • Blog Post by: Michael Rand
  • April 24, 2013 - 3:17 PM

Twitter provides us with all sorts of conundrums we never could have predicted even a few years ago. They range from the serious -- such as how social media impacted/impeded/aided the search for the Boston Marathon bombers and how the stock market temporarily plummeted after the AP Twitter feed was hacked -- to the somewhat silly.

In that latter category is a great emerging debate over whether NFL reporters should tweet out selections from the NFL draft before they are officially announced at the podium.

The NFL Network and ESPN -- as well as their respective sites -- took heat last year for ruining the suspense of the draft. So this year they have a new game plan. Per SI.com:

While ESPN and NFL Network will compete fiercely for audience this week, they have once again come together for a gentleman's agreement on the subject of tipping draft picks. Both networks have pledged not to show images of players on the phone in the green room at Radio City Music Hall. In addition to that, both networks tell SI.com that they will tell staffers not to report pick-by-pick selections on their Twitter feeds prior to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell announcing the picks on the podium. The Twitter edict will extend into the second round of the draft. Teams have 10 minutes to pick in the first round, seven minutes in the second round and five minutes for the rest of the draft.

"Our fans have told us they would rather hear from the Commissioner and I think it is a better TV show when we speculate and let the Commissioner do it," said ESPN NFL senior coordinating producer Seth Markman, who oversees draft coverage for the network. "I have said in the past that [ESPN reporters] Adam Schefter and Chris Mortensen can basically announce all the picks before they are made if they really wanted to. It goes against a lot of our instincts as journalists and it's totally different than anything I deal with, but we feel like it is a win for the fans and our viewers."

We get it. But we also say this: It's an unrealistic thing to ask of reporters and it's an unrealistic view of how things work in 2013. Communication flows differently, and information evolves in seconds instead of minutes or hours. Maybe it's one thing to keep it off of the TV since it's all in the name of the entertainment product, but to stifle the information on Twitter -- where people expect to know things first and are specifically looking for information -- is ridiculous.

Fortunately, this only extends to those two outlets. Jason La Canfora from CBS, among others, will not be participating in the charade. Per The Sherman Report:

[La Canfora] intends to tweet as much as possible. Beware: that includes upcoming picks before they are revealed on TV (if he gets them) to his nearly 300,000 followers. He also will be contributing updates to CBSSports.com.

“We’re not a broadcast partner for the draft,” La Canfora said. “I will be trying to get the information out as quickly and accurately as possible. What event is made more for Twitter than the NFL draft? If the teams have the information; if the guys in the production truck have the information; if the commissioner has the information; why wouldn’t passionate football fans want it as well?

Exactly. In summary: We understand ESPN and NFL Network doing it, but we still think it's ridiculous to limit their tweets. For everyone else, it is fair game. Period.

© 2014 Star Tribune