NPR stops using Twitter because platform is ‘undermining our credibility,’ CEO says

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NPR will no longer use any of its Twitter accounts, the network announced Wednesday. 

In an email to staff Wednesday shared with Current, CEO John Lansing said NPR will “no longer be active on Twitter” because the social media platform “is taking actions that undermine our credibility by falsely implying that we are not editorially independent.” 

Prior to a tweet today promoting other ways to get NPR content, the network had not tweeted since last week after Twitter added the inaccurate label “state-affiliated media” to NPR’s main Twitter account, which has nearly 9 million followers. Over the weekend, Twitter changed the label to “government-funded media,” though less than 1% of NPR’s annual operating budget on average comes from federal sources. 

Twitter’s definition of “government-funded media” says such outlets “may have varying degrees of government involvement over editorial content.” NPR does not.  

In a post on its website Wednesday, NPR said that “Twitter refused repeated requests” to remove the “state-affiliated media” label and that the “government-funded media” label is inaccurate. 

“We are not putting our journalism on platforms that have demonstrated an interest in undermining our credibility and the public’s understanding of our editorial independence,” Lansing wrote. 

Lansing went on to say that continuing to use Twitter “would be a disservice to the serious work you all do here.”

Prior to NPR’s announcement, some public radio stations also announced that they would stop using the platform. KCRW said in a post on its website Friday that it quit Twitter because it saw the “state-affiliated media” label as “an attack on independent journalism, the very principle that defines public media. Twitter has since doubled down on the label, which is outrageous and further undermines the credibility of the platform.” 

WEKU in Richmond, Ky., said Tuesday that it has ended sharing content on Twitter. And WESA in Pittsburgh said in a tweet Tuesday that it was “pausing its use of Twitter due [to] the company’s antagonistic relationship with NPR and the media.”

NPR is not encouraging stations to quit Twitter, according to spokesperson Isabel Lara.

“Member stations are independently owned & operated,” Lara said in an email. “So they’ll make their own decision about their presence on Twitter.”

All Things Considered host Mary Louise Kelly wrote on Twitter that NPR will let individual journalists decide whether to continue using the platform.

Twitter also added the “government-funded media” label to PBS’ main Twitter account over the weekend. PBS then changed its Twitter bio to say “PBS’s editorial independence is central to our work, and will never change. We produce trustworthy content that features unbiased reporting.”

PBS hasn’t tweeted since Saturday from its main account, which has 2.2 million followers.

“Twitter’s simplistic label leaves the inaccurate impression that PBS is wholly funded by the federal government,” the network said in a statement Monday. “PBS is primarily funded by the public and philanthropic organizations, with only a small portion of our funding coming from entities affiliated with government.”

These stations have also said that they plan to stop using Twitter following NPR’s announcement:

This post has been updated with Kelly’s tweet and the list of stations that have stopped using Twitter.

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