The Fun May Be Over for New York Times Power Tweeters

At the paper of record, a call for restraint.

New York Times executive editor Dean Baquet speaks at the unveiling of “Bill Cunningham Corner” on July 6, 2016, in New York City.

Michael Loccisano/Getty Images

The New York Times is cracking down on its reporters’ and editors’ tweeting habits, that is, if you believe what you read on Twitter.

On Thursday night Jennifer Steinhauer, a Times reporter and Twitter user (but for how long?), tweeted that Times executive editor Dean Baquet said that the newspaper plans to “institute tougher social media rules for employees.” This, in my professional opinion, is no fun at all.

Politico reported that Baquet made the statement during a talk at George Washington University. The paper followed up on Friday by releasing the guidelines online. The key point: “In social media posts, our journalists must not express partisan opinions, promote political views, endorse candidates, make offensive comments or do anything else that undercuts The Times’s journalistic reputation.”

The Times is worried about reporters and editors damaging the paper’s reputation by saying ill-advised or hastily conceived things on the network, which is a fair concern for any news organization. What this fails to consider, though, is that watching writers who are journalism-famous joke around with each other is one of the few joys left in this sad, low-paying, increasingly unstable profession, and can’t they just, like, be cool, man? Of course much of what goes on Twitter isn’t fit to be published in the Times; it’s Twitter, bruh. Whatever happened to putting “RTs are not endorsements and tweets don’t reflect the views of my employer” in people’s bios and calling it a day?

On Thursday evening, power-tweeting Times journalists and their fans mourned the end of a looser Twitter era with, what else, tweets. Let each one envelop you in warm memories of a time when we happily wasted hours a day on an arguably too-permissive social media platform that made us all crazy but gave us a few laughs along the way, too, didn’t it?

Those poor Timesies! But was any Twitter cri de coeur more visceral than this one, from one Times colleague to another?

Democracy dies in tougher social media rules for employees.