“The other danger is coming to believe that Twitter’s reaction to your coverage should be the primary way you regard the success or failure of your coverage.”
It’s no big secret that trust in the media is at all-time lows, with support especially plummeting during the Trump years as one “bombshell story that wasn’t” after another broke and destroyed most of what was left of reader/viewer trust among Republicans and independents.
The obsession some mainstream reporters have with having their reporting “validated” by left-wing Twitter mobs has also greatly contributed to the problem, so much so that the New York Times—which prides itself on having a “woke” newsroom —is now taking more aggressive action to encourage their journalists to spend less time on Twitter and more time in the real world:
The New York Times is issuing a Twitter “reset” for its newsroom staffers, according to a memo sent by Executive Editor Dean Baquet on Thursday, which Insider has obtained.
Baquet wrote that maintaining a Twitter presence is now “purely optional” for Times journalists. A Times spokesperson told Insider that this is “absolutely not a ban” and that the move was made in response to concerns that had been raised in the newsroom.
“If you do choose to stay on, we encourage you to meaningfully reduce how much time you’re spending on the platform, tweeting or scrolling, in relation to other parts of your job,” Baquet wrote in the memo.
In the full memo, which you can read below or here in the archived link from the Business Insider, Baquet noted that staff “can rely too much on Twitter as a reporting or feedback tool” which can become “harmful to our journalism when our feeds become echo chambers.” He also stated that reporters sometimes are “overly focused on how Twitter will react to our work” which can work “to the detriment of our mission and independence.”
Baquet also pointed to another big issue with reporters spending too much time on social media, writing that they “can make off-the-cuff responses that damage our journalistic reputations.” In other words, spending tons of time on Twitter can have the effect of confirming their liberal bias, which further erodes trust in the paper:
— Sarah Ellison (@sarahellison) April 7, 2022
— Sarah Ellison (@sarahellison) April 7, 2022
In response to reports about the leaked memo, Baquet sat down for a revealing interview with Harvard-based NiemanLab founder and senior writer Joshua Benton to explain in more detail the rationale behind the updated policy, which according to a link on their website was last updated in on November 3, 2020 – which just so happened to be Election Day:
What happened is we started to worry, I started to worry that Twitter had become too big a part of our journalistic lives. I was worried that some people were spending too much time on Twitter.
This is not an attack on Twitter. Twitter has tremendous value. We have readers there, we have people we want to hear. I thought it became outsized in its influence. I thought that some journalists were, you know, looking to Twitter for validation of their coverage. And I think that gave Twitter more power than, frankly, it deserved.
Baquet also told Benton that in 2014 when he took over as executive editor reporters were pushed into getting onto Twitter at his urging, obviously an unofficial “policy” of sorts at that time that he desperately wants to walk back now:
You know, when I became editor, which was after the Innovation Report, we didn’t order people to get on Twitter, but we pushed them to. In fact, I can remember people pushing me to go on Twitter. I think that there were a bunch of people at the Times who thought we wanted them to live on Twitter as much as they do. And over time, we realized we didn’t want them to do so.
So there was no one prompt. I started to feel that Twitter’s influence in journalism, period, and in our journalism was too great.
When asked to “characterize the negative influence” Twitter has had on the media, Baquet said Twitter reactions to stories published in the paper was a “danger” for the news outlet and should not be the “the primary way” the “success or failure” of what they’re reporting on is gauged:
The other danger is coming to believe that Twitter’s reaction to your coverage should be the primary way you regard the success or failure of your coverage. And I think that should not be Twitter’s place in a journalistic institution that aspires to be independent. Does that make sense?
Baquet has gone on record acknowledging the paper is liberally biased, something first openly admitted by then-public editor Daniel Okrent in 2004 , so he’s well aware that such biases are not merely “perception” but indeed are a reality.
It’s good the Times is taking steps to combat the “Twitterization” of their newsroom (which is also a problem at most major media outlets in this country). But getting the ones who have used Twitter over the years to build their brand (like Maggie Haberman) to detox from Twitter is going to be easier said than done, as some writers feed off the RTs, likes, and attaboys Twitter leftists give them.
Further, the discerning reader should note that this memo merely addresses the issues of reporters using Twitter as a validation tool and giving away their liberal biases in the process. It doesn’t address the bias in their actual reporting and allegations they suppress content that is inconvenient to leftist narratives, which are the bigger issues and which the Times has only themselves to blame for thanks to their over-emphasis on virtue-signaling about how “woke” and diverse (but not in an ideological way) their newsroom is.
The Free Beacon‘s Joe Simonson summed up the memo in a nutshell:
lots of the new york times social media guidance can be summed up as "please do not make your disdain for broad swaths of this country so obvious"
— Joe Gabriel Simonson (@SaysSimonson) April 7, 2022
— Stacey Matthews has also written under the pseudonym “Sister Toldjah” and can be reached via Twitter. —DONATE
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