Considering all the jobs newspapers are shedding lately — see PaperCuts for the latest tally — it seems doubly cruel for a publisher to make staffers legally bound not to poach co-workers if they leave for another company or start a new business. But that’s what San Diego Union-Tribune is doing, Voice Of San Diego reports (via Romenesko). The paper’s confidentiality agreement prohibits employees who exit the SDUT from soliciting former colleagues who have worked there within the past six months. Employees who signed the document must abide by the restriction for two years after they leave the SDUT. The paper recently laid off 192 staffers, and today is the last day for many of them.
Speaking of excessive corporate bans, Bloomberg staffers are now forbidden from discussing any subject covered by Bloomberg News, according to Valleywag. Citing Bloomberg’s media kit, Valleywag says the news service covers “companies, markets, industries, economies and governments,” meaning that online conversations with the financial information service’s staffers will be limited to the weather and not much else. Even sending a link to a competitor’s site is strictly verboten — so sending someone a link to the Weather Channel’s site, which is owned by Bloomberg rival CNBC’s parent *NBC Universal* and two PE firms, could be considered problematic.
Staci adds: I tried to reach top Bloomberg editor Matt Winkler to discuss the policy but instead heard from Judith Czelusniak, global head of corporate communications. Bloomberg’s official response: “The guidelines are prudent and ensure that Bloomberg reporters don’t inadvertently misrepresent competitors’ content or endorse stories that haven’t been authenticated by our rigorous reporting standards.” I asked if Bloomberg has considered any ways options beyond a blanket ban, and if links would be disallowed if Bloomberg quotes or cites information from a competitor. I also asked how Bloomberg defines competitive. The reply: “This was in the weekly editor’s notes. It is meant specifically for blogging and redistributing content that is not ours and not verified by us. Bloomberg itself carries more than 1,000 real time news services in addition to Bloomberg News and links to 30,000 Web sites.”