The New York Times wants to protect its journalists from online harassment by encouraging them to minimize their time on Twitter, according to a recently released memo.
Dean Baquet, the Gray Lady’s editor, told his staff that maintaining a Twitter account was “purely optional” after newsroom staff reportedly raised concerns that being targeted by internet trolls.
Baquet told staffers that Twitter’s policy “reset” was “absolutely not a ban,” according to Insider, who obtained a copy of the memo.
“If you choose to stay, we encourage you to significantly reduce the time you spend on the platform, tweeting or scrolling, compared to other parts of your job,” Baquet wrote in the memo.
Baquet promised the paper would step up support for its journalists who are subjected to the “industry-wide scourge” of social media harassment.
But the editor added that journalists’ tweets would be monitored by their bosses.
“Tweets or sub-tweets that attack, criticize, or undermine the work of your colleagues are not permitted,” Baquet wrote in the memo.
The new policy was rejected by former Times staffer Taylor Lorenz, the social media reporter who moved to The Washington Post after a high-profile departure from the Gray Lady.
Lorenz, who told MSNBC she contemplated suicide after being harassed and bullied on social media, said Times editors “systematically buy bad faith attacks online and punish their journalists when they are the subject of… defamation campaigns”.
She tweeted on Thursday that the Times’ new policy was “disappointing and contradictory to behold.”
“This is not how a newsroom should approach the internet or social media,” she wrote.
Lorenz accused Times editors of being “more obsessed” with Twitter than “the majority of the newsroom” and that they “stalk employees on every response.”
“Saying they’re going to see the police even more is counterproductive, detrimental to journalists, especially those who need to use the internet to report,” Lorenz tweeted.
A Times spokesperson told Insider: “What Dean is calling for is a reset of our newsroom’s approach to Twitter and other social media platforms. He tells our journalists that we do not expect them to need to be individually on social networks.
The spokesperson added: “It partly addresses the concerns of many colleagues in our newsroom who have told us that change is needed. But this is absolutely not a ban.
“The New York Times is committed to promoting our best journalism wherever our audience is, including on Twitter and other platforms.”
Twitter announced earlier this week that Elon Musk, the world’s richest man, would join its board of directors after the Tesla boss bought a 9% stake in the company.
Musk has pledged to make “meaningful improvements” to Twitter, which has been accused by critics – including Musk himself – of stifling free speech.
New York Post