The Roanoke Times wants the keys back to a Twitter account its former Virginia Tech beat writer has controlled for about seven years.
The Warren Buffett-owned paper sued Andy Bitter in federal court in Roanoke on Tuesday, asking a judge for a preliminary injunction and restraining order immediately barring Bitter from the account. The suit was first reported by Virginia Lawyers Weekly.
Bitter, who declined to comment, left the paper last month to join The Athletic, an upstart online subscription sports news website that’s been plucking beat writers from newspapers around the country.
The Roanoke Times alleges the account was created in 2010 by Bitter’s predecessor to promote the paper’s Virginia Tech coverage. Bitter took control a year later in 2011. When he left the paper on July 6, the lawsuit alleges he refused to hand the account back over and instead has been promoting his work covering Virginia Tech for his new employer.
The account has 27,000 followers and the paper claims it’s worth $150,000. They say it would take more than a year of full-time work for a single employee to gain the same following online.
The Times is seeking unspecified damages.