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Why Are Journalists Still on Twitter?
A question for the times (and the Times)
Let’s imagine there was a social network called BigotFeed.
It caters toward and kowtows to Far-Right extremists and hate-filled podcasters. It is owned by a billionaire who is vocally hostile toward the entire concept of journalism and also certain minorities. Normal people are allowed on there, I guess, but the primary function of BigotFeed is to drive more people toward hatred, close-mindedness, and the reign of the Republican Party.
Wouldn’t it be weird for the entirety of the Washington Post to be hanging out on BigotFeed?
You’re sharing your articles about the Jobs Report and joking around about the doomed Chris Christie campaign — on a site that increasingly exists solely to convince Americans that Trans people need to be in jail?
There’s a famous shop in SoHo that makes insanely good sandwiches. I would wait an hour in the baking sun just to sniff the bread, they’re so good. A friend went in there and the owner ranted to him about how Trump was going to stop the rapist Mexican illegals from coming. I don’t eat at that sandwich shop anymore. Doesn’t appeal to me.
Why are you all still on Twitter?
I don’t get it, but I especially don’t understand why news organizations are still there. We’ve long known that Twitter does not drive readers to news sites. It’s small. It’s unimportant. It’s an echo chamber. It is now owned by a Republican activist. What’s the point?
It used to be a fun diversion, a place to hang out and goof around. It was The Max from Saved by the Bell.
But The Max has new owners and boy do they hate certain minorities. We still hanging out here, Slater?
Do you not see the Swastikas graffitied on the walls now? You are in the middle of Westboro Baptist Church trying to talk to people about the debt ceiling. They don’t care. They want you dead.
I still check Twitter occasionally, out of habit. My thumb finds the Bird icon, I can’t help it.
The app is a swamp. The most prominent accounts, the ones that the owner enjoys, are engaged in open homophobia. The top replies to any news story include bizarre accusations of “grooming” by guys who shouldn’t be allowed to own firearms. A basset hound could win the Westminster Dog Show and the first 18 replies would be accusations that Hunter Biden runs a child sex dungeon.
Is that enjoyable to journalists? What are you doing there?
Again, the traffic is negligible. For reporters, Twitter primarily exists as a self-glorification machine. YOUR name is associated with YOUR content. You get a scoop and maybe Patton Oswalt retweets YOUR Twitter account. It’s pretty cool!
But like… Do you really wanna go viral on BigotFeed? Is that fun for you? Do you still feel good about it?
Twitter, as a concept, is dead. I have 60,000 followers but I have no interest in live-tweeting the Oscars. I am comfortable reacting to breaking news to my much smaller audiences on Instagram or TikTok or Bluesky or this ethically compromised newsletter website.
I am sure that the people who own all of these outlets are greedy Libertarian vampires with horrible opinions about taxes and the homeless.
But they are not sitting Ass Out in front of the web servers making things nicer for hatemongers.
Substack hosts some truly sick Far-Right newsletters, ones that are making its authors small fortunes. I’ve made my peace with it. The CEO is not waging a jihad against Queer people during Pride. Congratulations on bunny-hopping over the lowest bar possible.
My prediction is that journalists will slowly leave that place. It’s difficult to walk away from a big audience you’ve spent a decade accumulating, I know, but eventually the truth about what Twitter has become will creep in.
If you go to a sandwich shop and the owner rants about illegals every time, you would stop going. I mean, if you can enjoy a meal while the chef is whispering slurs in your ear, good for you.
But how much longer are journalists gonna put up with the whispers?
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