January 23, 2015

Spiegel Online

New York Times Executive Editor Dean Baquet told Der Spiegel in an interview published Friday that he’s too busy to stay “constantly” active on Twitter:

I know this is going to get me in trouble, but I’ll say it: The whole notion that I am supposed to constantly tweet is ridiculous. There are a lot of journalists at the New York Times who tweet. I am not opposed to it. But I don’t have enough time. And editors don’t have much to say. My world consists of this office, this floor, my apartment and wonderful conversations with our reporters and correspondents — all of them know a lot more about the world than I do.

Baquet has taken criticism for not being active on Twitter in the past. In October, Steve Buttry called on newsroom bosses to lead by example on social media, saying those who don’t put a damper on leadership in innovation. BuzzFeed also noted that Baquet — and many of his staff — aren’t active on social media, calling much of The New York Times Twitter presence a “graveyard.”

Baquet responded to Buttry, saying that those who slammed editors for failing to tweet might be creating “a new priesthood,” a case for exclusion among journalists.

Baquet drew attention for his activity on social media earlier this month, when he lashed out at a Times critic on Facebook, calling him an “asshole.” That episode was met with mixed reactions; Poynter’s Kelly McBride called for more decorum on social media among top editors, and Gawker approved of Baquet’s salty language.

Several New York Times staffers responded to Baquet’s comments about Twitter by tweeting about them:

In the interview with Der Spiegel, Baquet also said that The Times underestimated the potential of its younger competitors, like BuzzFeed, that took advantage of social media from their inception:

We assumed wrongly that these new competitors, whether it was BuzzFeed or others, were doing so well just because they were doing something journalistically that we chose not to do. We were arrogant, to be honest. We looked down on those new competitors, and I think we’ve come to realize that was wrong. They understood before we did how to make their stories available to people who are interested in them. We were too slow to do it.

The Times has recently attempted to catch up with the competition, as Baquet notes, by building out an audience development team.

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Benjamin Mullin is the managing editor of Poynter.org. He previously reported for Poynter as a staff writer, Google Journalism Fellow and Naughton Fellow, covering journalism…
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