Social Media, Sports, and Content Credit

Reporters have often focused on crediting the person that tweeted breaking news first (sometimes just the one with the faster fingers). They work hard (and get paid) to deliver such information.

Social media managers, who often also serve as photographers, videographers, interviewers, designers, and more, are similarly seeing the content they worked to produce usurped, without attribution. This has been gradually improving as hat tips, ‘via @xxx’, and even just ‘tagging’ one’s handle in a tweet or Instagram post is becoming more prevalent.

When ESPN, from its Twitter handle, posted a cool pic of the Arkansas Razorbacks football helmet, they neglected to credit the original source – this @RazorbackFB tweet.


Many of ESPN’s other accounts (ESPN College FB, ESPN NFL, ESPN NBA, SportsCenter, etc.) more often DO include attribution, but this was another case when @espn did not. (though they did give credit on their Instagram post). The incident, pointed out by @WarJessEagle, led to an extensive conversation by some social media and sports pros – check it out here.

It also reminded me that I asked Getty Images Director of Hockey Photography and NHL photography legend Bruce Bennett about this very subject in my recent podcast with the industry vet. He was primarily resigned to what content ownership and licensing can enforce. He didn’t spend time stressing over a losing battle and focused instead on delivering such a product that fans [and pros] would want more of it and to see from where and whom it came.


Bennett admitted that it can be discouraging when proper credit is not given. And, indeed, it is a shame more fans do not know Bennett’s name, for all the masterpieces he has provided over the years, but it seems this is the new reality, when content is a click and save or screen grab away from being easy to use as one’s own.

Maybe technology will catch up to safeguard such property more. Or maybe we’ll throw up our hands and attribution will be more a favor than an expectation.

Personally, I am a HUGE fan of attribution, if nothing else because it can start a relationship or conversation with the content producer themselves. When I share an article, photo, or tweet, I LOVE including attribution. I the Razorbacks saw ESPN credit them, they engage them in Twitter dialogue, post that a play of theirs was #SCTop10-worthy, or retweet/repost one of ESPN’s tweets or Instagram posts related to the Razorbacks.

Content is king. But giving credit for content can be key to a thriving kingdom.


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