The unclear relationship between Twitter and journalists

Since its acquisition by the controversial billionaire Elon Musk, uncertainty surrounds the future of the social network with 237 million daily users, of which journalists are the most numerous.

Many people find it difficult to leave it, because it represents a very important part of their work. “, assured AFP Nic Newman, of the Reuters institute for the study of journalism.

This British media expert works for the BBC ” when Twitter started, in 2008-2009 “. ” After their initial reluctance disappeared, journalists took it much harder “, he remembered.

And its use deeply ambivalent “Explanation by the editorial director of Ina (National Audiovisual Institute), Antoine Bayet, who was interviewed by AFP during the Medias en Seine festival in Paris.

Controversies and anger

One of the changes introduced by Twitter is to facilitate direct contact of journalists with sources of information, experts and politicians. ” Twitter is the new Rolodex smiled Nic Newman, referring to an old, 20th-century rotary address book.

Another revolution, the media stopped systematically revealing an event to the public, usually preceded by twittos witnesses of a sudden news (accident, attack …).

This has significantly changed the role of journalists, now more concerned with contextualizing and verifying information. first released on Twitter, lined up Nic Newman.

Similarly, institutions, politicians or famous people often communicate through Twitter, and being careful there is important.

Also read: Taking over Twitter in 7 questions

On a more personal level, Twitter allows some journalists ” to establish themselves there as a brand in their own right, even ahead of their employer “Reports AFP Stephen Barnard, researcher specializing in media at the American University Butler.

However, after the feverish start, critical voices were heard.

Twitter is destroying American journalism “, proclaimed the editorialist of the New York Times Farhad Manjoo in a forum in 2019. He pointed to the fact that his method of operation encouraged controversy and immediate anger, without taking a step back.

Disinformation »

Another recurring criticism: the fact that this network in which CSP+ and activists are overrepresented offers a vision that is not shared by the majority of the population. At the risk of cutting off journalists from the truth.

Focusing on Twitter tends to distort the way people, including journalists, see the world. It gives the impression that certain attitudes and opinions are more widespread than they really are “, deciphers for AFP Mathew Ingram, digital media specialist at the American magazine Columbia Journalism Review.

This is undoubtedly a problem in newsrooms “, added Nic Newman.

I hope this is something journalists are aware of. “, wants to believe Stephen Barnard. ” The question is not necessarily about the tool, but about the distance we can put or not on it “, Antoine Bayet is abundant.

Finally, the last element of Twitter’s obligations, ” he exposed journalists to an unprecedented deluge of misinformation and harassment “, said Mathew Ingram.

After several layoffs decided by Elon Musk, who does not hide his disdain for journalists, fears have arisen that Twitter will cease to function.

Although it seemed unlikely to him, Stephen Barnard judged ” along with Twitter employees themselves, journalists will be one of the categories most affected “.

For Mathew Ingram, “ they must return to more traditional ways of finding and reporting news, and find other ways to engage with readers. But maybe that’s a good thing “.

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