A week ago, New York Times chief television critic Alessandra Stanley landed in hot water after a much-maligned profile of the television producer Shonda Rhimes. In a statement, Stanley deflected criticism of the piece, alluding to the reactionary tendencies of the internet — specifically Twitter. Here's the Times Public Editor Margaret Sullivan:
I have asked Ms. Stanley for further comment (she has said that her intentions were misunderstood, and seemed to blame the Twitter culture for that, with a reference to 140 characters)
Stanley's woes are part of a difficult history between the paper of record and the 140-character platform. While many Times reporters were early and influential adopters of the social network, the company has struggled getting all of its staffers on board with "new media," as the company's much-discussed innovation report revealed. The report noted numerous discrepancies with regard to the paper's social strategies:
Readers are finding and engaging with our journalism in vastly different ways. More readers expect us to find them on Twitter and Facebook, and through email and phone alerts. But the newsroom pays less attention to these platforms, even though they offer our main, and sometimes only, channels to tens of millions of readers. Here, too, we are lagging our competitors.
That language is from May — but what does the Times' Twitter footprint look like today? To check, I conducted a very unscientific exploration into the editorial staff Twitter accounts. While the Times employs well over 1,000 editorial staffers, the company keeps an official Twitter list of "NYT Journalists," comprised of the 690 current (and some former) staffers who have Twitter accounts.
There are dozens of heavily followed, high-volume NYT staffers with excellent Twitter accounts. There are also plenty of ghost towns, monuments to the best intentions of the papers' less tech-savvy staffers. And there are eggs. Oh, the eggs! A graveyard of egg profiles.
In rounding up this tour of the Times' Twitter Graveyard I had a few, very fast and very loose rules for consideration. You are eligible for the graveyard if:
- You haven't tweeted in a little over two months.
- You have fewer than 20 total tweets.
- You have an egg as your profile picture. No egg was spared.
Let's go for a walk!