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New York Times updates Twitter policy for journalists as reporters experience uptick in online hate

Times executive editor Dean Baquet tells reporters to dial back reliance on Twitter.

Published: April 7, 2022 10:41am

Updated: April 7, 2022 11:40am

The New York Times has updated its policies for how its journalists use Twitter and is emphasizing the importance of utilizing sources beyond the short-form, online social-media platform.

In a memo distributed Thursday, the Times' top editor, Dean Baquet, announced a "reset in our approach" to guidance pertaining to Twitter.

Baquet said "maintaining a presence on Twitter and social media is now purely optional for Times journalists," though the paper clarified that it has never been mandatory for Times journalists to use the platform.

According to Baquet, he has been hearing from reporters about the challenges that the world of Twitter presents and that journalists can "rely too much on Twitter as a reporting and feedback tool." 

Baquet cautioned of the possibility of feeds becoming "echo chambers" and wrote that for those staffers who opt to stay on the platform, "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."

Some journalists in recent months have said they are experiencing a significant uptick in the number of threats they are facing from readers and the online community writ-large.

One journalist who has been especially vocal about the threats and online hate she has received is former New York Times writer Taylor Lorenz – now of the Washington Post. 

Lorenz, who covers internet culture and the field of content creation, says she did not feel supported by her former employer when she experienced online harassment. 

"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," she also tweeted.

Said Baquet: "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.

This is an industry-wide scourge, but we are determined to take action."