New York Times tells reporters to stop wasting time on Twitter

In a leaked memo, NYT executive editor Dean Baquet said that the paper will also increase its efforts to support journalists who receive harassment on the platform, which he called an 'industry-wide scourge.'

New York Times tells reporters to stop wasting time on Twitter
AP Photo/Mark Lennihan
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The New York Times is clamping down on its employees’ use of Twitter, urging reporters to “meaningfully reduce” how much time they waste on the social media platform.

The leaked memo issued by NYT executive editor Dean Baquet on Thursday, and obtained by Business Insider, details how journalists' presence on Twitter is “purely optional.”

Following the leak, a spokesperson for the Times said that the memorandum is “absolutely not a ban,” and that the move was made in response to concerns within the newsroom over staffers' misuse of their time.

“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, Baquet said that the paper will also increase its efforts to support journalists who receive harassment on the platform, which he called an “industry-wide scourge.”

Like other newsrooms, the Times previously encouraged reporters to use Twitter as a platform to promote their stories and create a reception for a wide audience.

Under the Times’ internal policies, masthead editors are required to police social media for bad behaviour that goes against the paper's editorial standards.

“Tweets or subtweets that attack, criticize or undermine the work of your colleagues are not allowed,” wrote Baquet.

The supposed harassment of journalists has become a popular topic following Taylor Lorenz’s interview on MSNBC in which she broke down in tears on camera when talking about the alleged online bullying and harassment she faced on Twitter.

Lorenz claimed in the interview that she suffered from “severe PTSD” from mean tweets.

The interview — which went viral due to her crocodile tears — prompted even more harassment than before, she claims. Lorenz, who voluntarily appeared on MSNBC now says that the network was to blame for causing her even more grief.

“If your segment or story on ‘online harassment’ leads to even worse online harassment for your subjects, you f***ed up royally and should learn how to cover these things properly before ever talking about them again,” said Lorenz on Twitter. “I could teach an entire class on this stuff, but the simple fact is that very few people in power in newsrooms actually understand how the modern internet and online landscape works, and so they continually give ammo to bad actors.”

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