Shut up, little Twitter bird!
As one of two managing editors, he’s responsible for The Post's features content and oversees its Web site. But he also sits in on news meetings and occasionally gets involved in “hard” news.What were Narasetti's tewible tweets? Stuff like:
Narisetti said today he now realizes that his tweets, although intended for a private audience of about 90 friends and associates, were unwise.
They were “personal” observations, he said. “But I also realize that... seeing that the managing editor of The Post is weighing in on this, it’s a clear perception problem.”
He has closed his Twitter account.
“We can incur all sorts of federal deficits for wars and what not... But we have to promise not to increase it by $1 for healthcare reform? Sad.”
“Sen Byrd (91) in hospital after he falls from ‘standing up too quickly.” How about term limits. Or retirement age. Or commonsense to prevail.”He hopped on some sensitive toes. Or he expressed himself — gasp! — personally — in a medium that is all about the personal touch. But he wielded the corporate media label, and his being opinionated undercuts his corporate media function.
In today’s hyper-sensitive political environment, Narisetti’s tweets could be seen as one of The Post’s top editors taking sides on the question of whether a health-care reform plan must be budget neutral. On Byrd, his comments could be construed as favoring term limits or mandatory retirement for aging lawmakers.Could be seen? Well, duh! His ability to ignore that (and the Post's continuing ability to toy with the possibility that he didn't express an opinion) could be construed as believing that we readers are naive and dumb.
Many readers already view The Post with suspicion and believe that the personal views of its reporters and editors influence the coverage. The tweets could provide ammunition.Ha ha. So you were hoping to fly under the radar, but you've started to worry that we're on to you? And so, you need to take precautions. But of course, you not only have opinions, you want to take advantage of the promotion that can be wrung out of Twitter and other new media that threatens to get out in front of you. What a dilemma!
Narisetti’s decision to stop posting coincides with today’s release of new Post newsroom guidelines for using Facebook, Twitter and other online social networks.Oh, no! The party's over! The web, for all it's wild, casual fun must be taken seriously. But I wanna run wild and free over here and still command all the authority of my profession!
The truth is, there is a price to be paid for speaking freely. You get things and you give things up. You need to think about what you want, make decisions, and deal with the consequences. I know: I — a law professor — have been doing that for years.
When Narisetti heard about the coming WaPo crackdown, he tweeted:
“For flagbearers of free speech, some newsroom execs have the weirdest double standards when it comes to censoring personal views.”Ah, but now Narisetti has folded his wings and supports the new guidelines. Here, read them:
When using these networks, nothing we do must call into question the impartiality of our news judgment. We never abandon the guidelines that govern the separation of news from opinion, the importance of fact and objectivity, the appropriate use of language and tone, and other hallmarks of our brand of journalism.And I thought that even in the newspaper, items labeled "opinion" or "analysis" or whatever could range well beyond pure fact and objectivity and could get creative with language and tone. How does tweeting under an individual name break these journalistic principles?
I'm guessing that the real problem is not that we learn that the editors are real people with their own ideas and that they are not neutral to the bone. I think it's that the transparent revelation of personal opinion would allow us to see that the editors all or almost all slant in the same political direction, and that's something the newspaper would like to hide. If gulling us into thinking the paper is written by neutral editors is a journalistic principle, it's not one I care about.
The guidelines continue:
What you do on social networks should be presumed to be publicly available to anyone, even if you have created a private account. It is possible to use privacy controls online to limit access to sensitive information. But such controls are only a deterrent, not an absolute insulator. Reality is simple: If you don’t want something to be found online, don’t put it there.That's true — so don't confess to crimes and misdemeanors — but does it refer to the expression of political opinions?
Post journalists must refrain from writing, tweeting or posting anything – including photographs or video – that could be perceived as reflecting political racial, sexist, religious or other bias or favoritism that could be used to tarnish our journalistic credibility.That could be perceived... But, good lord, any criticism of the President is, these days, perceived as racial bias.
And shouldn't there be a comma after "political"? Maybe not, these days....
And God forbid you should show any religious bias. That means that every journalist who wants to keep his job will have to shut up about the fact that he actually believes his religion is the true one or that he thinks religion is a big lie.
Let's all be decorous little nobodies here in this newspaper we're afraid no one's going to want to read anymore.