Sinclair Broadcasting ‘owns’ social media accounts of its on-air talent

WHAM-TV (Rochester, NY) reporter Rachel Barnhart tells her followers that Sinclair Broadcasting, which recently acquired WHAM, has a policy of “owning” the social media accounts of its on-air talent.

Rachel Barnhart

Rachel Barnhart

At this juncture, I am retaining ownership of my existing Facebook and Twitter pages. Therefore, the company has started new social media accounts in my name for me to use during work hours when I am covering stories. The company has administrative control over these accounts.

Barnhart points out in the comments on her post: “The big benefit for stations is owning a reporter’s relationship with followers. The reporter can’t take the following with her if she leaves for a competitor or anywhere else.” She adds: “I don’t consider this a muzzle, as I can continue to use my own accounts, primarily as I have been. I just have to maintain additional work-only accounts.”

* “An important note to my Twitter and Facebook friends” (

UPDATE: A reader says American City Business Journals — owned by the Newhouse family — ordered its reporters late last year to set up business-related Twitter accounts named after the reporters’ beats and to share passwords with the company. “We can have personal Twitter accounts, but we have to do our business-related tweeting on our business Twitter accounts,” writes the ACBJ employee. “We also can make personal observations on our business-related Twitter accounts, though that seems to me like begging for trouble.”