Love-hate relationship of journalists on Twitter

Since controversial billionaire Elon Musk acquired it, uncertainty has surrounded the future of the social network with 237 million daily users, with journalist accounts among the most current and most active.

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

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

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

Direct access to an endless pool of potential resources

One of the changes introduced by Twitter is to facilitate direct contact for 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 has stopped being the first to systematically reveal an event to the public, often ahead of Internet users who testify to breaking news (accidents, attacks, etc.).

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

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

On a more personal level, Twitter has empowered journalists to put themselves out there as a brand in their own right, even more so than their employerreports for AFP Stephen Barnard, researcher who specializes in media at Butler University, in the United States.

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

Public discourse fueled by social networks

Twitter is destroying American journalismproclaimed the editorialist of New York Times Farhad Manjoo in a column in 2019. He pointed out the fact that his mode of operation encourages controversy and immediate outrage, without backing down.

Another recurring criticism: the fact that this network, in which the more educated classes and militant groups are overrepresented, offers a perspective unlike that of the majority of the population, on the danger that cut journalists off from the truth.

The focus on Twitter tends to distort the way people, and journalists, see the world. It gives the impression that opinions and attitudes are more widespread than they really are. »

A quote from Mathew Ingram, Digital Media Specialist at Columbia Journalism Review.

This has undoubtedly been a problem in newsroomsadded Mr. Newman.

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

The spread of misinformation and online harassment

Finally, the last element in Twitter’s liabilities, he exposed journalists to a deluge of misinformation and harassment like never beforesaid Mr. Ingram.

After the massive layoffs decided by Elon Musk, who made no secret of his disdain for journalists, there were fears that Twitter would simply stop working.

Although it seemed unlikely to him, Mr. Barnard considered that aside from Twitter staff, journalists are among the most affected categories.

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

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