NPR has asked Twitter to remove a “US state-affiliated media” label from its account, which was added Tuesday despite the social media platform’s own policy on usage of the tag.
“This must be a mistake as it contradicts Twitter’s own guidelines,” said an NPR spokesperson in an email to Current. “We have reached out to Twitter to have the label removed.”
“We were disturbed to see last night that Twitter has labeled NPR as ‘state-affiliated media,’ a description that, per Twitter’s own guidelines, does not apply to NPR,” said NPR CEO John Lansing in a statement shared with Current. “NPR and our Member stations are supported by millions of listeners who depend on us for the independent, fact-based journalism we provide. NPR stands for freedom of speech and holding the powerful accountable. It is unacceptable for Twitter to label us this way. A vigorous, vibrant free press is essential to the health of our democracy.”
According to Twitter’s website, “state-affiliated media is defined as outlets where the state exercises control over editorial content through financial resources, direct or indirect political pressures, and/or control over production and distribution.” The U.S. government does not control NPR’s editorial content.
As of Tuesday, the policy went on to say that “state-financed media organizations with editorial independence, like the BBC in the UK or NPR in the US for example, are not defined as state-affiliated media for the purposes of this policy.” The mention of NPR has since been removed from that sentence.
In a tweet replying to a Twitter user who praised Twitter CEO Elon Musk for adding the label, Musk said, “Seems accurate.”
“NPR is not state affiliated media. It is public media,” said former NPR host Lulu Garcia-Navarro in a tweet Wednesday. “… The bias as to who is being targeted on this site by its leadership is so very clear. And it’s not a small thing.”
Update: The Public Media Journalists Association posted a statement Wednesday objecting to the “state-affiliated” designation. “What is to prevent Twitter from labeling every local public media outlet in the United States in the same way even though every outlet is editorially independent?” wrote PMJA President Priska Neely and Executive Director Christine Paige Diers. “This inaccurate label is a disservice to our democracy.”