New York Times resets social media for journalists’ Twitter use

  • NYT Executive Editor Dean Baquet said in a memo that Twitter is now “purely optional” for staffers.
  • Baquet said the editorial team will provide support to journalists facing harassment.
  • He added that Twitter attacks on colleagues are not allowed and encouraged employees to “sensibly reduce” their time on the platform.

The New York Times is issuing a Twitter “reset” for its editorial staff, according to a memo sent Thursday by executive editor Dean Baquet and obtained by Insider.

Baquet wrote that maintaining a Twitter presence is now “purely optional” for Times journalists.

“If you choose to stay on, we encourage you to significantly reduce the amount of time you spend on the platform, tweeting or scrolling in relation to other areas of your work,” he wrote.

Baquet added that the Times would also step up its efforts to support journalists who are harassed on social media.

“This is an industry-wide scourge, but we are determined to take action,” he wrote.

Baquet also said that “tweets or subtweets that attack, criticize or undermine the work of your colleagues are not allowed.”

A New York Times spokesperson did not immediately return a request for comment.

More to follow…

Read the full memo below:

Colleagues,

I’ve been hearing serious concerns from colleagues in the editorial office for some time now about the challenges Twitter poses.

We can rely too much on Twitter as a reporting or feedback tool – which is especially damaging to our journalism when our feeds become echo chambers. We can be too focused on how Twitter will respond to our work, to the detriment of our mission and independence. We can create off-the-shelf responses that damage our journalistic reputation. And for too many of you, your experience with Twitter is defined by intimidation and attacks.

Obviously, we need to rethink our stance on Twitter for the editors. So we’re making some changes.

First, being on Twitter and other social media is now purely optional for Times journalists. In fact, after speaking to dozens of you, it is clear to us that there are many reasons why you might want to quit, and we will support anyone who decides to do so. If you choose to stay on, we recommend that you significantly reduce the amount of time you spend on the platform, tweeting or scrolling in relation to other areas of your work.

We all also need to reinforce our commitment to treating information out there with the journalistic skepticism we would have with any source, story, or critic. It should be just one of many inputs for reporting, listening to feedback, and gaining insight into any story or issue.

Second, we are announcing an important new initiative to support journalists who experience online threats or intimidation. We take these attacks very seriously and we know how much this abuse affects our colleagues’ well-being, sense of security and ability to do their jobs. We have a dedicated team to support Times journalists, and we’re introducing new training and tools to prevent and respond to online abuse. This is an industry-wide scourge, but we are determined to take action. We will give more details today.

Third, I would like to emphasize that your work on social media must reflect the values ​​of The Times and be consistent with our editorial standards, social media guidelines and standards of conduct. In particular, tweets or subtweets that attack, criticize or undermine the work of your colleagues are not allowed. This undermines The Times’ reputation and our efforts to foster a culture of inclusion and trust.

Masthead editors, department heads and our Standards department will pay close attention to how all Times journalists use social media to ensure it is in line with our social media guidelines.

I know that Twitter can play a useful role, whether it’s reporting on breaking news, specific beats, or gauging feedback. It has also been instrumental in raising awareness of the concerns of underrepresented groups. And I recognize that in the past we’ve strongly urged you to use it to bring our journalism to the attention of more people, connect with readers and discover stories.

This is a complicated subject and our views have evolved considerably in recent years. I’m sure they will continue to do that. I want to be clear that we are here to support you. This may mean providing guidance and protection against harassment; work with our audience team to responsibly promote stories online; or simply offer encouragement if you decide to forgo social media.

You will probably have questions about this, so we have developed an FAQ with the main points from our social media policy and these updates.

I encourage you to come and talk to me or other top leaders about this if you have any concerns. We could all use this moment to reflect on our newsroom culture – both online and in person – and how we can help shape it.

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