The New York Times is changing its social media policies on journalists' use of Twitter, making it "optional" as the paper's executive editor, Dean Baquet, announces a "reset in our approach."
The reason given for the change is dangerous online harassment and potential work distractions, according to The Hill — and not concerns over political activism.
"Maintaining a presence on Twitter and social media is now purely optional for Times journalists," Baquet wrote in new guidance after hearing from staffers on "the challenges that Twitter presents."
Baquet noted Times journalists "can rely too much on Twitter as a reporting and feedback tool," warning, "Our feeds become echo chambers."
The Times has long been a target of former President Donald Trump for its decidedly liberal reporters and news coverage.
"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 added.
The Hill noted the Times has never made a social media presence mandatory, making the announcement of "now purely optional" a curious new guidance.
Former Times journalist Taylor Lorenz, who also used to work for The Hill, spoke out against harassment online.
"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," Baquet's memo added. "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.
"This is an industry-wide scourge, but we are determined to take action."
Lorenz rebuked Baquet's statement as disingenuous.
"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," Lorenz tweeted Thursday. "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."
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