The New York Times is updating its policies for how its journalists use Twitter, and is emphasizing that use of the social media platform is optional given the dangers of online harassment.
In a memo to employees on Thursday shared with The Hill, Dean Baquet, the newspaper’s top editor, announced what he called a “reset in our approach,” handing down new guidance dictating that “maintaining a presence on Twitter and social media is now purely optional for Times journalists.”
Baquet wrote that he has been hearing from staffers about “the challenges that Twitter presents,” writing that staffers at the leading national newspaper often “can rely too much on Twitter as a reporting and feedback tool.”
Such feedback, Baquet wrote, can be harmful to the Times’ journalism when “our feeds become echo chambers.”
Baquet said it will be purely optional for Times journalists to use Twitter moving forward, and the organization’s leadership will take steps to support anyone who decides to stop using the platform.
“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,” he wrote.
The Times clarified on Thursday it has never been mandatory for its reporters to use Twitter.
Several journalists at various large media companies have shared concerns in recent months about an uptick in threats they say they face from readers and the larger online community based on their reporting.
Former Times journalist Taylor Lorenz has been one of the most vocal journalists in the country about the harassment she has faced while covering internet culture and the creator economy. Lorenz, who previously worked at The Hill, has said she did not feel supported by the Times in the wake of such online harassment.
“We take these attacks extremely seriously, and we know just how much this abuse affects our colleagues’ well-being, sense of safety and ability to do their jobs. We have a dedicated team to support Times journalists, and we’re rolling out new training and tools to help prevent and respond to online abuse,” Baquet said in his memo. “This is an industry-wide scourge, but we are determined to take action.”
Lorenz said on Thursday morning that Baquet’s words fall flat.
“The issue w/ NYT is that they consistently buy into bad faith attacks online and punish their journalists when they’re subject to gamergate style smear campaigns,” she said on a string of tweets. “The masthead editors are more obsessed w/ twitter than the majority of the newsroom, stalking down employees every reply. Saying they’re going to police that even *more* is counterproductive, damaging to journalists, especially those who need to use the internet for reporting.”
This article was originally published in The Hill and has been republished here with permission.