Monday, September 10, 2012

Hmm .. apparently I am not supposed to be posting about #UCDavis in "social media" (SEE UPDATE AT BOTTOM)

At the suggestion of a colleague I have been browsing through the UC Davis Policy and Procedure Manual - Chapter 310, Communications and Technology Section 40, University Communications: Publications, Graphic Standards, Marketing, and Media Relations.

Much of it is straightforward but much of it seems to basically be discouraging any direct social media posts or interaction with the press. See for example:
The News Service unit in University Communications is the exclusive source for developing and disseminating news about UC Davis to the general public via newspapers, radio, television, magazines, and the World Wide Web, including social media and related channels. The News Service unit determines the newsworthiness of significant developments and activities in academic research; administrative programs; accomplishments of faculty, staff, or students; events; and other campus matters. It conducts or coordinates direct contact with news media representatives, and assures that media relations are timely, accurate, comprehensive, and of broad public interest.
Generally, the news media will contact the News Service to find a source for a story. If a reporter contacts a source directly, that faculty member, staff member, or student shall notify the News Service
Hmm ... so ..  when I was contacted by multiple reporters about the pepper spray incident and for my comments on it and on the handling of it by UC Davis I was supposed to notify the UC Davis News Service.  I suppose I could have done that.  But how about this - I communicate with dozens if not 100s of reporters on Twitter about all sorts of things.  Should I notify the news service about each contact?  That would actually be kind of fun.  They would block my emails very soon thereafter I am sure.

I am also wondering about the role of the News Service as the "exclusive source for developing and disseminating news" "via newspapers, radio, television, magazines, and the World Wide Web, including social media and related channels."  So is this saying I am no longer supposed to write about UC Davis on social media?   No more blogging?  No more Twitter?  How does this jibe with all the retweets and reposts I get by official UC Davis groups/people?  

In the end I can imagine that the UC Davis administration would say this wording is not quite what they mean.  But it is there.  And technically, I am supposed to follow it.  Oh well, off to kill all my social media accounts.  Yeah, right.

UPDATE: Barry Shiller - UC Davis Communications Chief Guru has responded with clarifications that this policy is NOT intended to suppress any communications but is about coordination with the News Service
I'm replying directly and publicly as an expression of transparency, and professional respect for you.
You indeed misinterpret the policy. It was, and is, intended to optimize coordination with the media - not, as is inferred by your post, to inhibit anyone. Coordination, by the way, is as beneficial to the media as anyone. They appreciate knowing their go-to points of contact. That said, reporters contact faculty, staff and students without interference or inhibition. All the time. 
It may be that this policy fails to clarify or contemporize the distinction between "reporters" and social media content creators, including bloggers. If so, we will take a look at it; I'd welcome your input. 
But let me be clear: as you well know, many university constituents actively blog, tweet, post, opine. (I'm among them.) In this age, it is an important ingredient in telling our story. The policy is not intended to discourage that


  1. I'm getting the sense that they're not too explicit about this but the university basically owns you and everything you produce while you're there. We violate all sorts of policies like this all the time, but if something juicy were to ever come out, they have all the legal protection necessary to strike back.

    So basically don't do anything interesting and you should be fine ;-)

    Actually, I'm starting to assume that about all areas of the law these days -- if 'they' want to screw you, they'll find a legal way to do so. You already signed your life away anyway.

    1. I am not so pessimistic. 1) Though I have issues with bureaucracy, I like many of the people now in the higher admin at UC Davis. 2) As a back up however, I wish them all the luck in the world if they choose to come after people for posting to social media ...

  2. That's a policy that could only have been written by a bureaucrat who never heard of academic freedom ... or at least never understood it.

  3. Jonathan,

    When I was at LBNL they adopted at policy that all web pages (and changes) required prior approval by management. I threatened to send every one of my (numerous) web pages
    and every change to mgt.
    I was told not to engage in "subversive compliance" and left alone. LBNL did require us to sign (put our name on) and date every web page we posted.

    1. I think I will start sending them all my tweets

    2. Jonathan,

      I follow you on Twitter (because your observations interest me). No need!


    3. Thanks Barry ... that will save some emails

  4. As usual, it seems that the policy-in-effect is much more reasonable than the policy-as-written-by-lawyers. It is a service to the community to point out ridiculous things like this before some well meaning, newly appointed person feels obliged to implement the madness.