Sunday, October 12, 2014 at 1:02 PM

A priesthood of sources

Dean Baquet, the A picture named twitterOnIphone.giftop editorial guy at the NYT has a Twitter account, but hasn't used it much. What got me to look at his account was a puzzling statement he made about Twitter creating a priesthood, like the editorial priesthood that already exists at the NYT.

A Twitter priesthood?

People with millions of followers on Twitter do define a new kind of elite. But they're mostly celebrities, people who are famous for singing or because they're beautiful or great actors. They may be a priesthood, but one that a person such as Baquet could probably ignore. Except for a few NBA players (I'm a big fan) I do.

Twitter is like a telephone

Not using Twitter puts him and his organization at a disadvantage.

Today it's a basic way for reporters to get information from sources. Imagine a reporter in the 1970s who refused use a telephone. To get a quote they'd have to meet at a bar, or in an underground garage. It's hard to imagine.

I'm assuming that the executive editor at the NYT does at least some reporting himself. It's possible it's a completely administrative position, then maybe he doesn't need to use it. But he's a leader, an example-setter. If the reporters at the Times are expected to compete in the news environment of 2014, it seems their leader must show them the way, not stand in the way.

The sources are on Twitter

A person who never leaves the office, or never uses a telephone, or never asks a question on Twitter is not reporting. You can only get so much news from your own mind. If you're doing that, you're a source, not a reporter. And probably not a very good source at that. To be informed, you have to go where the people are speaking. And these days, like it or not, the sources are on Twitter.

PS: I own no Twitter stock. I'm not happy that news is centered on Twitter. I think trusting such a vital function to a single for-profit company is a bad thing.

Last built: Sun, Mar 22, 2015 at 5:50 PM

By Dave Winer, Sunday, October 12, 2014 at 1:02 PM. Yeah well, that's just, you know, like, your opinion, man.