Hey, kids! Remember how a week ago, the Washington Post responded to a tweet from GLAAD, which had complained that the paper granted a forum to anti-gay bigot Tony Perkins, by telling the LGBT-rights organization that they were "working to cover both sides" of the gay-teens-being-hounded-to-suicide-by-homophobes debate? Well, that won't be happening again!
No, no, I'm not saying that the Post is going to stop treating Perkins' "the gays have mental health problems and encouraging them to come out of the closet is the reason they are committing suicide" drivel as an "interesting point of view" that is a worthy side in a "debate." But they are going to stop responding to critics, on Twitter! Per Mike Masnick, at TechDirt:
It's unfortunate that so many news organizations appear to believe that there are two (and only two) sides to every story, and are willing to report each equally without ever taking a stand on which is the actual story. Either way, after this exchange, the Washington Post alerted its staffers to no longer engage with the public via Twitter in this manner:
Even as we encourage everyone in the newsroom to embrace social media and relevant tools, it is absolutely vital to remember that the purpose of these Post branded accounts is to use them as a platform to promote news, bring in user generated content and increase audience engagement with Post content. No branded Post accounts should be used to answer critics and speak on behalf of the Post, just as you should follow our normal journalistic guidelines in not using your personal social media accounts to speak on behalf of the Post.
Perhaps it would be useful to think of the issue this way: when we write a story, our readers are free to respond and we provide them a venue to do so. We sometimes engage them in a private verbal conversation, but once we enter a debate personally through social media, this would be equivalent to allowing a reader to write a letter to the editor--and then publishing a rebuttal by the reporter. It's something we don't do.
An innovative solution, I guess! Sadly, it neatly skips over the central problem at the root of this kerfuffle, which is the stupidity of having anti-gay bigots weigh in on the matter of gay teen suicides. Instead, there's now this new rule, that will force everyone at the Washington Post who is not stupid enough to have an anti-gay bigot weigh in on the matter of gay teen suicides (like, say, Jonathan Capeheart) to refrain from using Twitter as a tool for social media engagements, like other humans do.