Freedom paper tells reporter to remove LAT story from Facebook wall

THE LATEST: “I haven’t been updated on my future,” Barrett Tryon writes on my Facebook wall. “That will apparently happen in a meeting tomorrow at 11:30 a.m.”

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After it was announced that Aaron Kushner’s group was buying the Orange County Register and other Freedom Communications papers, a journalist at Freedom’s Colorado Springs Gazette posted this on his Facebook wall:

Barrett Tryon, a Gazette multimedia journalist, was told at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday afternoon that his Facebook wall post — a link to this Los Angeles Times story — was in violation of Freedom Communications’ social media policy.

Carmen Boles, the Gazette’s Director of Content, sent Tryon this passage:

PROTECT THE COMPANY’S GOODWILL, BRANDS AND BUSINESS REPUTATION.

Freedom Communications, Inc.’s Associate Handbook/Confidentiality and Proprietary Rights policy prohibits you from posting disparaging or defamatory statements about the company or its business interests, but you should also avoid social media communications that might be misconstrued in a way that could damage the company’s goodwill and business reputation, even indirectly.

Barrett Tryon

Tryon, who has been at the Gazette for two months, told Boles: “It’s on my personal account, and from an LA Times article, I’m not removing it.”

He told her in another email: “Not trying to cause a ruckus, but I posted a news story and included a quote from the article. I did not interject any opinion. I’m not sure where I’m violating policy.”

Tryon was told that the matter would be handled by corporate HR.

The email exchange continued:

Boles wrote at 4:59 p.m.: “Why would you want to pull out a quote like that about the company you work for?”

Tryon responded at 5:03 p.m.: “If it’s going to HR, I’d rather just wait to comment.”

Boles at 5:04 p.m.: “You can call me and we can talk about it before I send.”

Carmen Boles

Tryon at 5:23 p.m.: “You can just send it since you already threatened to. I don’t want to argue about it. I’m too tired and mentally exhausted today to have to justify something on my personal account.”

Boles at 6:19 p.m.: “I’ve had a pretty rough day myself. I just want to understand why you think it’s ok.”

Tryon at 6:43 p.m.: “I think it’s only natural for someone to be interested in something that directly affects you. And who cares about my Facebook in the grand scheme of things? If you noticed, Carrie from the Indy defended us. I understand you do what you gotta do. I think there’s a huge difference between saying “eff off” versus pulling a quote. But since I violated policy, I’ll deal with the consequences.”

Tryon says he expects to be fired today. (I’ve invited Boles to comment.)

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