May 3, 2012
The N.C. High School Athletic Association held it's spring board of direcotrs meeting in Chapel Hill on Wednesday, May 4, 2011.
Whenever I cover an event for work I tweet.
Twitter has become as mainstream in the media as having a website. People from all over, high school kids especially, use Twitter as a source of news. That's why we have almost 6,400 followers on our @HighSchoolOT Twitter account.
When I'm at a game, I tweet. When I'm at a press conference, I tweet. When I learn breaking news, I tweet. When I go to Wake County Board of Education meetings, I tweet. And when I went to the N.C. High School Athletic Association meetings this week, I was tweeting... For a few minutes.
Apparently the NCHSAA doesn't appreciate Twitter, or the fact that I was tweeting updates to my followers from the realignment hearings.
After tweeting throughout the appeals from Jordan-Matthews and Chatham Central, I tweeted a list of all of the people who came to support the appeal from Green Hope and Panther Creek. That's when NCHSAA Associate Commissioner Rick Strunk came to me and told me that I was not allowed to tweet during the meeting.
Strunk said in the past when the media has tweeted from board meetings the Association received phone calls about what was being discussed. He said the NCHSAA didn't want us reporting what was going on until the meeting was over.
So why even invite the media?
The NCHSAA sends out a press release after the meeting with bullet points of what happened at the meeting. If I can't report to my audience what happens before the meeting is over, why not just wait until that press release comes out? It would save several hours of my day. And that is why I left the meeting early on Wednesday.
Governing bodies like the NCHSAA should strive to be transparent, and I commend the Association for allowing the media to sit in on the Board of Directors meetings. But when you invite the media to cover something, how can you expect them not to cover it in the moment? News no longer waits for it to be printed the next day or for the 6 o'clock news. In today's world, news is immediate. People want it instantaneously.
The media was invited to this meeting in an e-mail, and nowhere in that e-mail does it say anything about tweeting, reporting, when we can update our audience, etc. The only time this policy was mentioned was when it was verbally mentioned.
A "Twitter Jail" policy for an organization that should be transparent in how it conducts business is counterproductive, especially when the organization oversees public institutions. Either open the meeting up completely, or close it off to just the board.
When it's time for the next Board of Directors meeting in December, I'll consider this column. Is it really worth the time to go sit through a few hours of discussion when I can't do anything with it?
Of course, there is the chance that the NCHSAA will decide to allow more transparency in the process.
This blog post is closed for comments.