Over the weekend, the Mets announced they would no longer allow tweeting during Terry Collins' press conferences. Ironically, I first heard about this news via Twitter, which is the best demonstration of why this is a short-sighted idea.
The news came as a surprise to me. Under the new Sandy Alderson regime, the Mets had already made a few small strides in the direction of being social media friendly; most notably, including bloggers on press conferences with the GM. I'd expected more such moves to come in the near future. What exactly, I'm not sure. Schedule some Bloggers Set the Lineup Days? At the very least, I figured the Mets would start to move in the direction of the Rays, who made social media platforms a big part of their post-Vince Naimoli fan outreach (see The Extra 2% for more details).
Near as I could tell, there was no reason given for this new policy, and almost no comment on it from the folks most affected by this policy, the beat writers. The only one I found who commented on it at all, and perhaps explained the reasoning behind it, was Steve Popper of the Bergen Record. In a tweet saying he agreed with the rule (again, irony), Popper added, "if all the reporters are tweeting no one is asking questions and it is rude." He later added that the Red Sox have instituted a similar rule.
Perhaps not being able to tweet during press conferences is a small thing. Perhaps I'm being like some of the people Louis C.K. satirized for complaining about the "slowness" of their cell phones, expecting something they couldn't even comprehend a few short years ago. ("Can you give it a minute to GET BACK FROM SPACE?") And if you've read any of my posts in the offseason, you know that I've had issues with many of the beat writers' use of Twitter; I saw a great deal of needless negativity over the long cold winter in way too many feeds.
But in the main, I think Twitter is a valuable tool that allows writers to communicate and connect with fans, particularly when there's breaking news to report. It's not too long ago that fans wouldn't expect constant updates on their team's every move, but now they do. Check out Twitter on any given gameday and you will find writers responding to an endless series of queries about team news.
For all the complaints about how all the writers tweet the same thing at roughly the same time (and those who do can always choose to follow only one writer), fans also raise hell on the rare occasions that breaking news tweets don't come within nanoseconds of the actual event. (JOHAN THREW A BULLPEN AT 9:15. IT'S 9:16, WHERE ARE THE UPDATES?!)
This is a toothpaste-out-of-the-tube moment. Does everyone want to hear about every single word that comes out of Terry Collins' mouth the second it happens? No, but they also don't want to have that option taken away from them.