Not everybody likes the NY Times. I happen to be a long-time fan and paid subscriber. I mostly read the op eds and have for years. I count amongst my favorite people to read from the left & the right as David Brooks, Thomas Friedman & Paul Krugman (and was a big fan of the late William Saffire). I also read almost every Maureen Dowd post even though I don’t always agree with her politics or viewpoints I find it interesting to get other perspectives than my own.
So it’s a disappointment to me that these esteemed journalists haven’t adapted to the modern media – to social media. I think they would all hone their craft if they spent a bit more time engaging in online discussions, reading perspectives of others and occasionally commenting publicly with others. Rupert Murdoch is nearly 84 and he seems to have figured out how to be authentic on Twitter and even engage a bit as you can see if you follow his amusing Tweet stream. That’s why I follow Rupert and none of the journalists. Shame.
Here’s an example from nobel-prize economist Paul Krugman.
He can write well about economics but dude can’t Tweet. If you look at his Tweetstream he basically uses it as a one-way publishing tool for his op eds. zzzzzz. And he follows 2 whole people. It’s as though he doesn’t want to get anybody else’s perspective or engage at all. I of all people know how many trolls exist whenever you publish something people don’t like. But that’s no reason to have zero engagement.
How about the venerable slightly-right-of-center David Brooks? Meh. I love the guy’s viewpoints. I watch him every Friday on The Newshour on PBS along with Mark Shields. But on Twitter? Absolute snoozer. Follows 43 and has Tweet 240 times – I’m sure all are just links to his op ed posts.
You could argue that it doesn’t matter. That these journalists are well established and don’t need online audiences. Perhaps. But I think they’re missing out on the medium that allows you to broaden your scope of thinking, test ideas in an online marketplace and allow fans to have a small sliver of unfiltered access to you. It’s a two-way world. Too many NY Times oldline journos are one-way. Shame. And when you look at the 43 people Brooks follows it’s probably about 35 of his fellow NY Times colleagues. And Marc Andreessen. At least there’s that. Marc, maybe you can break through?
Thomas Friedman may have figured out that The World is Flat. And also hot & crowded. But he hasn’t figured out that media is now two way. For a guy so willing to travel the world and debate foreign governments and people it’s surprising he’s not willing to travel to his Tweetstream to do the same. He contextualizes everything about the world yet nothing about his own job or industry. Following 78. All insular. NYT Prescriptions. NYTimes Autos. NYT Open Source. NYT First Draft. NYT Metro Desk. NYT DotEarth. NYT Learn How to Use Social Media. Please.
Dowd follows 71. She can dish the dirt but she can’t grok the new medium. It’s no wonder Buzzfeed, Vox, Upworthy and others are growing leaps. They get the medium for delivering their content has changed. The NY Times – not so much.
Let me say it again. Unlike some of you I’m a fan on the NY Times. I read it every single day as I have done for the past 25 years. I pay for it because I value journalism. But I promise you that website redesigns, paywalls, apps on my phone – none of these things will help the Times long term if it can’t help itself modernize how its reporters use the Internet and how to use social media to drive consumption and engagement.
The best politicians have figured out how to engage on Twitter or Instagram. See Cory Booker or Eric Garcetti. The best comedians have, too. Sports stars are engaging their fans. Actors, too. VCs who use the medium well have been able to control more mindshare than established VCs who do not. Social media affects all public figures and isn’t something that professionals can shy away from.
This new medium isn’t going anywhere – it’s time to embrace it.
(Cross-posted @ Both Sides of the Table)