A sports reporter took a new job. Now his former newspaper is suing over a Twitter account

The Roanoke Times spells it out right in its handbook: Employees who have been issued “Company-owned information assets, keys or other access items must return them to the Company upon termination of employment,” according to a lawsuit filed last week in federal court.

Does that policy also include the keys to social media accounts maintained by its reporters? That’s what the Virginia newspaper is now arguing.

The paper filed a federal lawsuit last Tuesday against its former Virginia Tech sports reporter for failing to relinquish control of his Twitter account when he took a job at a competing news outlet. The Times also asked the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia to grant a temporary restraining order that would prevent Andy Bitter, the former reporter, from using the account to promote his work covering the Hokies for his new employer, the Athletic. The filing says that Bitter “signed an acknowledgment of receipt” of the employee handbook, and that the handbook makes clear that all social media “accounts and communications on those accounts” are the property of BH Media, which owns the paper. [Full story: The Washington Post/Rick Maese]

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