The New York Times is updating its policies on how its journalists use Twitter and stressing that using the social media platform is optional given the dangers of online harassment.
In a memo to employees shared Thursday with The Hill, Dean Baquet, the newspaper’s editor, announced what he called a “reset of our approach,” giving new guidelines that “maintain a presence on Twitter and social media is now purely optional for Times reporters.
Baquet wrote that he had heard from staffers talking about “the challenges that Twitter presents”, writing that staffers at the main national newspaper “can often rely too heavily on Twitter as a tool for reporting and feedback”.
Such returns Baquet wrote, can be detrimental to Times journalism when “our feeds become echo chambers”.
Baquet said it will be purely optional for Times reporters to use Twitter in the future, and that the organization’s leadership will take steps to support anyone who decides to stop using the platform.
“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,” he said. writing.
The Times clarified on Thursday that it has never been mandatory for its journalists to use Twitter.
Several journalists from various major media companies have raised concerns in recent months about an increase in threats they say they face from readers and the wider online community based on their reporting.
Former Times reporter Taylor Lorenz has been one of the most vocal reporters in the country about the harassment she has faced while covering internet culture and the creator economy. Lorenz, who previously worked at The Hill, said she did not feel supported by The Times following such online harassment.
“We take these attacks very seriously and we know how much these abuses affect the well-being, sense of safety and ability of our colleagues to do their jobs. We have a dedicated team to support Times journalists, and we are rolling out new training and tools to help prevent and respond to online abuse,” Baquet said in his note. “It’s an industry-wide scourge, but we’re determined to act.”
Lorenz said Thursday morning that Baquet’s words fall flat.
“The problem with the NYT is that they consistently embrace attacks of bad faith online and punish their reporters when subjected to gamergate-style smear campaigns,” she said on a series of tweets. “Editors are more obsessed with Twitter than the majority of the newsroom, stalking employees with every response. Saying they go to the police even more is counterproductive and damaging to journalists, especially to those who need to use the Internet for reporting.