Reuters: An interview with New York Times Executive Editor Bill Keller by Anthony DeRosa
Sum Up: I’ve never actually used Twitter for conversation, but I’m sure that it’s bad at it because I once picked a fight there. Also, anyone who disagrees with me is just not reading or a “cyber-puritan.”
Confidential to Bill Keller: You might want to try actually having a conversation on Twitter with someone who doesn’t work for you before deciding it’s bad at it. Posting “#TwitterMakesYouStupid. discuss." to Twitter is like walking into a sports bar in San Francisco and screaming "Giants suck! Discuss." You will walk out with a black eye.
Besides, saying that Twitter is bad at deep conversation is like saying the phone is bad at nonverbal communication. Of course it is - that’s not what is was designed for. Spoons are bad at cutting steak!
Twitter’s defining characteristic is the 140 character limit, but that doesn’t mean that all the conversation there is worthless. In my experience, it’s a great writing exercise to take a large thought and edit it until it fits in that small box. You should try it.
The most telling part of this interview is Keller’s rationalization for why he doesn’t use Twitter (emphasis added).
I follow Twitter and pay attention to it, but I rarely Tweet because I have a rather large platform here, called The New York Times. If I run across something interesting, or have a thought that might merit reporting, my instinct is to send it to an editor or reporter, in hopes it grows into a story — not to share it first with a Twitter universe that includes most of our competitors. (Or I might save it for a column of my own.) I’m sure I could do a better job of responding to Tweets about the Times, but that takes time, and mine is usually fully booked.
I’ve heard this kind of thing a lot from traditional journalists. The idea of sharing online is truly foreign to them. Anything they say in public could be heard by the competitors! It’s at once egotistical (“everything I think is so valuable I have to hoard it”) and dismissive of everyone else (“therefore all those people on the net sharing their thoughts must be worthless”).
The inability to see social media as anything other than a place to mine for traffic is at the core of why the traditional media doesn’t get the net, and why the net is going to replace them.
Oh, and Bill? We “cyber-puritians” stopped using the prefix “cyber” in 1996.