Send in the tsarina to make a play

The Southeastern Conference is reacting to criticism of its iron-fisted media rights policy by saying it’ll tweak the rules a bit.

The emphasis is on a bit. A conferences spokesman said SEC execs will definitely look at the provision that says only full-time employees of media organizations can get press credentials. Seems, lo and behold, they’ve discovered media organizations are now using a lot of part timers and stringers to cover even their events. Imagine!

There was no signal that the restriction on video, including from press conferences, would be modified. Basically, the SEC wants to control all video of “SEC events” in a game or outside of a game.

And Twittering, fugetaboutit.

A year ago at preseason practice, it was a non-issue. It wasn’t even a personal sideline for coaches and reporters watching X’s and O’s in the summer heat. Now coaches (or their surrogates) are Twittering, sports reporters are Twittering and maybe you are Twittering, too.

When reporters at Tennessee, and other school’s started Twittering practices this August, it became an issue as in NO.

I asked the University of Tennessee’s John Painter, associate sports information director, about the Twitter policy at practice.

He explained in an email:

The media coverage policy in question isn’t new. For instance, live phone reports from the practice field never have been allowed while practices or scrimmages still are in session. More modern phones and faster ways to communicate should not change the policy of not reporting on practice while it still is taking place.

Practice reports should be held until practice and interviews with the head coach are over. After that, fire away.

I want your reporters to give UT fans all the information about our team they can handle, but I need to respect our coaches’ and trainers’ wishes to at least have the option to comment on the events of the day after practice has concluded. Your interpretation of events from that point forward absolutely is your business.

Sports writers and others in the media didn’t interpret it quite the same way, but they seem to be complying, begrudgingly.

Wes Rucker Twittering(More Twittering from the Chattanooga Times Free Press’ Rucker.)

That’s an area where we’re all adjusting to the technology and the Tennessee athletic department staff has been flexible in accommodating local media requests, no matter how wacky. The NFL, and other sports leagues as well, are grappling with the issue of to Twitter or to not Twitter, what dost thou say. Even sports media organizations like ESPN are trying to figure it out.

But the rules being imposed from the conference level tower are an entirely different level of restriction of coverage, speech and social media, and could potentially affect fans who are sitting in the stands with its fine print for ticket holders.

From John Clay at the Lexington Herald Leader:

Big Blue Fan is in Commonwealth Stadium for the Kentucky-Florida game on Sept. 26 and Trevard Lindley has just intercepted Tim Tebow for the third time that afternoon.

Quickly, he pulls out a BlackBerry/iPhone and sends a text message to a friend:

“You’re not going to believe this, Lindley just picked Tebow for the 3rd time!”

Congratulations, Mr. Big Blue Fan, you’ve just lost the right to buy another ticket.

Clay Travis, writing at NCAA Football Fanhouse offers a suggestion with at least much realistic acumen as what the SEC and its media rightsholders came up with for everybody else:

The SEC should employ an intelligent 16-year-old girl and give her this title: New Media Tsarina. Anything they contemplate doing, should have to cross her pink desk first, because she clearly understands the new media landscape better than the old men at the SEC. How else to explain the consternation, hand-wringing and anger that has surfaced since the SEC’s new media policy was released last week?

Here are some more links on the SEC media policy:

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An earlier set of links is here and this post has a link to the SEC policy released last week. And follow me on Twitter.