And Another Thing: Those Dumb Social Media Guidelines For Journalists Are Going To Paint A Target On Their Backs
from the unintended-consequences dept
Just last week we discussed the alarming trend in media companies for putting in place restrictive social media policies for their employees, including their opinion commentators. In that post, we focused on how this move is both dumb and bad for two reasons. First, restricting the opinions of those followed by the public for their opinions is flatly nonsensical. Second, the goal of these policies — to have the public view companies as non-partisan — is simply a fantasy in these hyper-partisan times. Nobody is going to decide that the New York Times or Wall Street Journal are suddenly bastions of non-partisanship simply because either muzzled its staff.
But there is another negative consequence of these policies that the original post didn’t touch: it paints a target on the backs of the employees it governs. Because of, again, hyper-partisanship that has reached true trolling levels, these social media policies will be wielded like a cudgel by every trollish dissenter that doesn’t like a particular media outlet. The New York Times, for example, is already having to endure this.
This is the same twerp who tried to get me fired for making fun of Milo. pic.twitter.com/nsLkUco6sG
— Asher Langton (@AsherLangton) November 7, 2017
You can see what I mean. Because of a social media policy looking to strip anything that might even appear partisan from the social media output of its employees, the New York Times has given true partisans a weapon to wield. A weapon, I might add, vague enough to be a perfect weapon for trollish behavior. When a pair of quotation marks around a word can be used to threaten someone’s employment, particularly when the person threatening has a history of contacting the employers of journalists, we have a problem.
The solution to this is quite simple. Any media property, conservative or liberal, that is contacted by someone like this bitching about partisan reporting, should have but one response for that person: shove off. Particularly in the realm of opinion politics, cries of bias have reached the level of wolf-crying. It’s expected, it means nothing, and it is easily ignored. Again, I mean for that to apply to both sides of the political aisle.
But the social media policy disrupts the New York Times’ ability to flick away the concerns of a partisan booger. Because of the policy, the booger must be heard and, I imagine, the booger’s claims must be validated or invalidated. That, in case it wasn’t clear, is fairly stupid and counterproductive.
Stop arming boogers, media companies.