For years, Twitter has encouraged bad behavior by reporters and damaged the mainstream media's image. Now, you can finally get your employees off it.
If Musk used $44B to buy Twitter only to destroy it and remove it from society, it will have been one of the great unintentional acts of public service this world has ever seen.
Just on a microeconomic level, there seems to be some disconnect here. We keep hearing about how
A) As Josh says, journalists are behaving irresponsibly on Twitter, damaging the credibility of their employers, and making the newspapers less profitable etc.
B) The newspaper industry is dying, there’s a massive overproduction of would-be journalists and other literary types, there’s fewer jobs in journalism every day and starting wages for a writer, especially in a major city, are unlivable.
The synthesis of A and B is that the newspapers hold the upper hand. Just tell your employees not to tweet! You don’t need an excuse. What are they gonna do?
Can confirm as a doctor that medical twitter is very unrepresentative. Among other things, Twitter doesn't really help you do your job any better in medicine and there's limited career benefit for normal doctors on Twitter. So the type of doctor who ends up spending a lot of time on there either spends their free time constantly posting about work, or wants to build a social media-oriented personal brand instead of climbing the career ladder a more normal way.
1. A while back a journalist friend complained to the effect that her ilk (~5k followers) are always trying to get attention from larger accounts and the whole thing is frustrating and sad. I wonder if these newsrooms have low-follower journalists who would enjoy the equalizing effect of a total Twitter ban.
2. That is a beautifully haunting DALL-E right there. Clearly DALL-E doesn't think journalists have good posture though
Getting a push notification on my phone of breaking news about a Twitter poll by Musk was the thing that finally made me cancel my Washington Post subscription. That's not even close to real news.
I'm not sure I believe what I'm asking, Josh, but would it be at all fair for someone to challenge you on the idea that you were able to build a brand and monetize that brand into your own platform via Twitter and that it's unfair to suggest that today's crop of reporters shouldn't be able to do the same thing you did?
I find myself agreeing with most of it, particularly the productivity part. I work nowhere close to journalism but if I was tweeting all day I wouldn't get anything done.
That said, is there any getting away from an aggregator/microblogging service of some sort any more? These services have massively increased (casual) readership and it'd be a pretty gutsy move to just drop this stuff altogether and go back to the pre Twitter days.
In my mind the biggest benefit is you get to see who the writer really is as opposed to who that writer is when filtered through editors. Exposure to you and Ken through Twitter is the reason I'm even here to write this.
As someone who just reads the news, and doesn’t write it, I’m honestly tired of all the outrage and attention Twitter is getting. I don’t care!!! I want to know what’s happening on our borders, I’m worried about Ukraine, Russia and China. Twitter is a distraction I don’t need.
Isn't there a first-mover disadvantage to newsrooms making this decision? It seems like a good way to face employee backlash and get pushed out of your high-status job running a newspaper. I do not work in journalism, but it seems like, as you said, an obvious path from reporter to well-known journalist with more options for making more money and having more freedom is to get popular on twitter. So this would be extremely unpopular and might result in painful departures. So you could envision a situation where Buzbee knows you're right on the merits and has known that for a long time, but she sees it as difficult in the short-term, and might believe she'd be a martyr to the cause if she implemented the policy. Then maybe she gets replaced by somebody who just quietly doesn't change the policy because it was the right decision long-term, but Buzbee ends her career as a PR professional.
As a moderate middle aged manager this makes perfect sense to me which makes me suspect the young leftwing journalists and Twitterati will vehemently disagree, probably for reasons I will find painfully stupid.
Where there's a market, someone will fill it. Mastodon and Post.news are vying to be the Twitter successor, with journalists now Publishing (formerly tooting) and Posting. Maybe this is an opportunity for a newsroom reset. But without proactive decisions soon, all the incentives will re-create Twitter's attention ecosystem for reporters elsewhere.
How might Post's micropayments program change the game? Does your employer have a claim on your tips for material you post in the course of doing your job? If not, that's an incentive to roam even farther from editorial control while angling to launch oneself as an independent superstar.
I agree with the sentiment, but I'm not sure how well this plays out in practice. I think there's some tension between Josh's theory of why Twitter is bad for news and the message that'd be sent by a circumstantially Musk-related pullout.
Saying "we're leaving because of Elon's arbitrary and capricious rule" makes it sound like the paper is affirming, not repudiating, the way their newsroom was interacting with Twitter before Musk got involved and ruined everything. If you want reporters to hear the message that introducing Twitter-style attitudinizing into their approach to covering political stories is a bad thing, then you actually *have to say that.* And, seeing as the longstanding fact of its manifestly being a bad thing hasn't motivated editors to say so yet, I'm sadly doubtful that this changes anything on that front.
Hi Josh — Love the Newsletter, but I’m curious if you plan on continuing the podcast. It was one of my favorite pieces of content during the week. Thanks for all the wonderful content!
It has been an hour, and there is no evidence that you have been either doxed or cancelled. Perhaps, you have made the usual suspects reflect upon their actions....
Good piece. What abt tweets when reporters aren’t working for the institution in question though? Shld you have your current tweets held against you if you end up trying to work for the NY Times again? Also, if tweets build brands, won’t some media orgs attract better talent w/ permissive attitude, thereby undercutting the rationale for restricting tweeting?
I've been thinking recently about the conflict of interest for reporters with large followings on Twitter. They're not shareholders, of course, but the value of their accounts rises and falls along with the fate of Twitter itself. At this moment, they may want Musk to fail, but they certainly don't want their accounts to become worthless.