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NYC Ballet considers social media guidelinesWall Street Journal


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#1 Stecyk

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Posted 15 March 2011 - 06:23 AM

NYC Ballet considers social media guidelines

(excerpt)

NEW YORK (AP) — New York City Ballet wants to develop social media guidelines for all its artistic and administrative employees.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the company is negotiating a social media policy as part of contract negotiations with the dancer's union, the American Guild of Musical Artists.


Article should be available without subscription as it points to the following site:
http://www.nola.com/...ff52c91832f0c5f

If unavailable, use your favorite search engine for NYC Ballet Social Media.

Edit: Moderators, this is likely in the wrong section. Feel free to move to "links."

Edited by Stecyk, 15 March 2011 - 08:20 AM.


#2 Helene

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Posted 16 March 2011 - 11:17 AM

The Wall Street Journal reported that

According to a draft of the policy obtained by the Journal, dancers would be banned from disclosing another dancer's injury or illness and be required to specify their comments aren't company sanctioned.


The story was picked up in today's Daily Mail, which reported

Now ballet bosses have drafted a contract which allows them to monitor all posts on Twitter and other social networking websites by company members to check that nobody is causing offence.

Members of the corps will also be banned from taking pictures of other cast members without their permission.

The draconian rules would bring it into line with a string of major companies which have taken action to stop staff causing embarrassment through their use of social media.


The main focus of the story was the sensationalist report on corps member Devin Alberda's recent Tweets which made fun of Peter Martins' DUI and either Justin Bieber or Martins' "Magic Flute" and "branded an Asian character in a production as a crude stereotype. I don't understand the Bieber reference and whether it's related to his Tweet that "Yellowface character in NYCB's 2010 revival of The Magic Flute the worst thing to happen to the Asian American community since EO 9066".

He clearly knew it would either be seen by or passed on to The Powers That Be at NYCB -- he used the "dontfireme" tag -- but the virtual wall that's assumed in social media between the very public public and the very public private is so very alien to me.

#3 abatt

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Posted 16 March 2011 - 11:42 AM

I think Alberda is right to question the Chinese stereotyped character in MF. In fact, there are a lot of politically incorrect and offensive portrayals in ballet (and opera too). The Tea and Coffee sections of Nutcracker are particularly noteworthy for being offensive, in my opinion. I suspect that political incorrectness might also explain the absence of Raymonda from ABT's rep for many, many years. Why would NYCB want to censor Alberda's comments? Moreover, I don't think it would be legal for NYCB to censor Twitter comments, including the negative comments about Peter Martins. Seems like NYCB wants to be on the cutting edge by using social media, but doesn't want to accept the bad with the good. Alberda must have figured out by now that making negative comments about his employer on a publicly available Twitter account is not going to help his career.

I read the Wall Street Journal column and learned that there is a Fake Peter Martins twitter account, as well as a Fake Kevin McKenzie account. Some people have a lot of extra time on their hands, apparently.

#4 Stecyk

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Posted 16 March 2011 - 12:33 PM

Why would NYCB want to censor Alberda's comments? Moreover, I don't think it would be legal for NYCB to censor Twitter comments, including the negative comments about Peter Martins. Seems like NYCB wants to be on the cutting edge by using social media, but doesn't want to accept the bad with the good. Alberda must have figured out by now that making negative comments about his employer on a publicly available Twitter account is not going to help his career.

Employers can and do restrict what employees do and say on their personal time.

They are not censoring a dancer. The dancer's right to free speech is still available, just not as a dancer working for that company. In other words, the company won't prohibit a dancer from voicing his or her opinion. But the company will prohibit employing a dancer who is making disparaging remarks or perceived to be harming the company. This practice is quite common for most traditional companies where employees sit in a cubicle all day long.

At many companies, employees are prohibited from talking to the press. That's the role of public relations companies.

And if you consider sports, look at what happens to Mark Cuban when he speaks his mind.

Going back to restrictions in the article, they don't seem overly onerous.

The Wall Street Journal reported that

According to a draft of the policy obtained by the Journal, dancers would be banned from disclosing another dancer's injury or illness and be required to specify their comments aren't company sanctioned.

Those rules seem fair.

With regard to Alberda learning that his actions are not going to help his career, it's a painful lesson to learn. Not only has he harmed his career with his current company, but he has also harmed his potential career with others. Others will usually shy away from controversial people, for they consume too much scarce energy.

One of the disadvantages of being on a team--whether in a traditional corporation, a sports franchise, or a ballet company--is that you sometimes have to suppress your opinions. When you fly solo, you are free to speak your mind.

#5 abatt

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Posted 16 March 2011 - 12:52 PM

This is an interesting article from the NY Times on the topic at issue.

http://www.nytimes.c...09facebook.html

#6 Stecyk

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Posted 16 March 2011 - 01:06 PM

This is an interesting article from the NY Times on the topic at issue.

http://www.nytimes.c...09facebook.html

Indeed it is. There are a few excerpts that caught my attention.

Company Accused of Firing Over Facebook Post

That act gives workers a federally protected right to form unions, and it prohibits employers from punishing workers — whether union or nonunion — for discussing working conditions or unionization. The labor board said the company’s Facebook rule was “overly broad” and improperly limited employees’ rights to discuss working conditions among themselves.

Working conditions or unionization are allowed.

An administrative law judge is scheduled to begin hearing the case on Jan. 25. Marshall B. Babson, a member of the National Labor Relations Board in the 1980s, said a broad company rule that says one cannot make disparaging comments about supervisors is clearly illegal under labor law. But he said an employee’s criticizing a company or supervisor on Facebook was not necessarily protected activity.

[emphasis added]

But employees might cross the line into unprotected territory if they disparage supervisors over something unrelated to work — for instance, a supervisor’s sexual performance — or if their statements are disloyal.

Drinking after-hours is unrelated to work.

I'd still err on the side of caution. This article seems to suggest that law is somewhat murky. I know many companies, however, have restrictive policies. Some even fire employees if they discuss their wages. And according to this article, you are allowed to discuss wages.

#7 cantdance

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Posted 18 March 2011 - 03:13 PM

Devin Alberda blogs about his tweets. http://goldenperseid...-by-myself.html

#8 Simon G

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Posted 18 March 2011 - 06:45 PM

I kind of get the feeling Alberda doesn't much care about his career, or if not "not care" has come to terms that at 24/25 promotion to soloist isn't really going to happen, certainly never principal.

#9 Amy Reusch

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Posted 18 March 2011 - 08:49 PM

Thanks for the blog link... easier for us non-tweeters to get to than tweets.... Nice to be able read enough of his thoughts that he becomes more than just a name in an article. Now, if we could just get him to stop riding the homeless people...

#10 Stecyk

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Posted 19 March 2011 - 07:34 AM

Devin Alberda blogs about his tweets. http://goldenperseid...-by-myself.html


I read his blog post. Although I found it interesting, I also found that I disagreed with some of his comments.

I Can Tweet Bad All By Myself by Devin Alberda

I’ve never revealed proprietary information or tweeted about another dancer's injury. I recognize the need to protect the company’s interests as well as its employees, but a restrictive online social networking policy would limit the access dancers would be able to allow the public to their professional lives.

Protecting the company's interests is certainly a subjective criteria. Indeed, many would simply apply the rule our mothers' taught us, "If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all." Others might be more liberal as to what is acceptable or permissible. Me, I'd probably ask myself: Does this tweet or blog entry further the goals or aspirations of the company?

I’m not a star, I don’t go on gigs, nor do I have a public image to maintain. I revel in irreverence, and yes, perhaps making a joke about my boss’ DWI arrest is pushing it.

So which is it? Is it protecting the company's interests or pushing it too far?

Of course starting a thoughtful conversation on Twitter is difficult, all the more so with my own hyperbolic tendencies.

But if you always protecting the company's interests, then hyperbolic tendencies ought not matter.

I don’t think anyone should be worried about my Twitter feed. I definitely consider the ramifications of certain comments, but Sandra Bernhard and Richard Pryor are two of my personal heroes and as a result I may locate the line separating tastefulness and distastefulness a little differently than many people in the dance world do.

Of course, there's a difference between Sandra Bernhard and Richard Pryor and Devin Alberda. The former were soloists, free to capture the imagination or scorn of their fans without repercussion to others on the team. The latter is a part of a larger and more important whole. What he does might influence how others perceive not only him but his company as well.

I am not offended by Alberda's comments. However, if I were part of his company, I am not so sure I would be as neutral. Especially in these challenging economic times, I would want everyone doing their reasoanable best to make the company better. As with any organization, there will always be something, something negative or unpleasant that needs to be addressed. Those issues, regardless of whether they are in the public domain, are likely better addressed behind closed doors where frank, honest, and hard discussions can take place without adding further injury to the company.

#11 Mel Johnson

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Posted 19 March 2011 - 11:04 AM

Without actual language in place, I feel that it is somewhat less than useful for anyone, whether Alberda or us, to comment on company policy with regard to social networking. The appropriate forum for that is the AGMA negotiation with NYCB over their General Contract. It's sounding like a cry to mount the barricades only to find that a proposed measure is intended to prevent jaywalking.

#12 Simon G

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Posted 19 March 2011 - 01:41 PM

Without actual language in place, I feel that it is somewhat less than useful for anyone, whether Alberda or us, to comment on company policy with regard to social networking. The appropriate forum for that is the AGMA negotiation with NYCB over their General Contract. It's sounding like a cry to mount the barricades only to find that a proposed measure is intended to prevent jaywalking.



I have to agree with Mel, I can't quite see why everyone's getting their knickers in a twist here. Alberda's comments have nothing to do with the imposed restrictions. In fact a lot of his tweets don't actually make that much sense, he's not quite as clever as the wit he's straining after and he relys too much on big words to give weight to very little meaning. The Koch/soap dish tweet being a case in point.

I think this is more to do with NYCB protecting its wealthy sponsors than fear of the media and public at large who, let's face it, don't really care about ballet or the internecine politics of ballet companies. (Unless it's Natalie Portman stabbing herself in the abdomen before going out into Swan Lake Act 3. But then again now that she's won her Oscar it's old news.)

#13 Stanley

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Posted 19 March 2011 - 03:34 PM


Without actual language in place, I feel that it is somewhat less than useful for anyone, whether Alberda or us, to comment on company policy with regard to social networking. The appropriate forum for that is the AGMA negotiation with NYCB over their General Contract. It's sounding like a cry to mount the barricades only to find that a proposed measure is intended to prevent jaywalking.

In fact a lot of his tweets don't actually make that much sense, he's not quite as clever as the wit he's straining after and he relys too much on big words to give weight to very little meaning. The Koch/soap dish tweet being a case in point.


http://i.dailymail.c...755_468x222.jpg

Which big word are you struggling with? Sabotage? Paranoia? Dispenser?

#14 Simon G

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Posted 19 March 2011 - 04:04 PM



Without actual language in place, I feel that it is somewhat less than useful for anyone, whether Alberda or us, to comment on company policy with regard to social networking. The appropriate forum for that is the AGMA negotiation with NYCB over their General Contract. It's sounding like a cry to mount the barricades only to find that a proposed measure is intended to prevent jaywalking.

In fact a lot of his tweets don't actually make that much sense, he's not quite as clever as the wit he's straining after and he relys too much on big words to give weight to very little meaning. The Koch/soap dish tweet being a case in point.


http://i.dailymail.c...755_468x222.jpg

Which big word are you struggling with? Sabotage? Paranoia? Dispenser?



Yes. Along with patronise, sanctimonious and tedious.

#15 dirac

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Posted 19 March 2011 - 07:41 PM


Without actual language in place, I feel that it is somewhat less than useful for anyone, whether Alberda or us, to comment on company policy with regard to social networking. The appropriate forum for that is the AGMA negotiation with NYCB over their General Contract. It's sounding like a cry to mount the barricades only to find that a proposed measure is intended to prevent jaywalking.



I have to agree with Mel, I can't quite see why everyone's getting their knickers in a twist here. Alberda's comments have nothing to do with the imposed restrictions. In fact a lot of his tweets don't actually make that much sense, he's not quite as clever as the wit he's straining after and he relys too much on big words to give weight to very little meaning. The Koch/soap dish tweet being a case in point.

I think this is more to do with NYCB protecting its wealthy sponsors than fear of the media and public at large who, let's face it, don't really care about ballet or the internecine politics of ballet companies. (Unless it's Natalie Portman stabbing herself in the abdomen before going out into Swan Lake Act 3. But then again now that she's won her Oscar it's old news.)


Agree with both of these posts. We'll see.


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