The love-hate relationship of Twitter journalists

Since it was acquired by the controversial billionaire Elon Musk, uncertainty surrounds the future of the social network with 237 million daily users, of which the journalist’s accounts are among the most current and most active.

Many will find it difficult to leave [Twitter]because it represents a very important part of their worksaid AFP Nic Newman, of the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism.

This British media expert worked at the BBC when Twitter started in 2008-2009. When their initial hesitation disappeared, the journalists used it very hardhe remembered.

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

Direct access to an endless pool of potential sources

One of the changes introduced by Twitter is to facilitate direct contact of journalists with sources of information, both specialists and political figures.

Twitter is the new Rolodexsaid Mr. Newman, referring to the old revolving address book associated with the 20th century.

Another revolution, the media stopped systematically revealing an event to the public, often preceded by Internet users who confirm breaking news (accidents, attacks, etc.).

This has significantly changed the role of journalists, now more concerned with contextualizing and verifying information. [d’abord sorties sur Twitter]lined up Mr. Newman.

Similarly, institutions, political figures and celebrities often communicate through Twitter, and monitoring it is important.

On a more personal level, Twitter allows journalists to establish themselves there as a brand in their own right, even ahead of their employerreport for AFP Stephen Barnard, researcher specializing in media at Butler University, in the United States.

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

Public discourse ignited by social networks

Twitter is destroying American journalismproclaimed in the editorial of New York Times Farhad Manjoo in a column in 2019. He points out the fact that his method of operation encourages controversy and immediate anger, without backing down.

Another recurring criticism: the fact that this network, where the more educated classes and militant groups 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, and journalists, see the world. This gives the impression that opinions and attitudes are more widespread than they really are. »

An excerpt from Mathew Ingram, Digital Media Specialist at Columbia Journalism Review.

This is undoubtedly a problem in newsroomsadded Mr. Newman.

I hope this is something journalists are aware of, Barnard added. The question is not necessarily the tool, but the distance we can take, or not, with it.

The proliferation of misinformation and online harassment

Finally, the last element of Twitter’s responsibility, he exposed journalists to an unprecedented deluge of misinformation and harassmentsaid Mr. 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, Mr. Barnard considered that apart from Twitter staff, journalists are among the categories most affected.

For Mathew Ingram, if this happens, [les journalistes] need to return to more traditional ways of finding and obtaining information, and find other ways to interact with readers. But maybe that’s a good thing.

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