Watching Your Media Diet: What happened when one editor paid less attention to Twitter and more on his paid news sources.

Author:Tornoe, Rob
Position:Digital publishing - Gabriel Snyder - Interview

Do you care too much about what you see on Twitter?

That's not meant as a judgment. Let me be the first to admit I'm addicted to Twitter, and that I often waste ridiculous amounts of energy and time on the banter, conjecture and arguments about everything from breaking news to what a former colleague ordered for lunch.

Despite being among the least powerful social media platforms in terms of driving readers and traffic to stories, Twitter has assumed an outsized role in most newsrooms across the country and is impacting how we as journalists consume and ultimately report on the news.

That's not just idle speculation or me pushing my own personal addiction to Twitter onto the industry as a whole. According to a recent study by the University of Utah and Temple University, reporters who spend a large amount of time on the social media platform allow it to impact their news judgment. Many get caught up in what the study described as "pack journalism," where a story is seen as important mainly because other journalists are talking about it on Twitter, rather than assessing its newsworthiness on the merits.

Considering the problems Facebook and Twitter continue to grapple with when it comes to media bubbles and the prominence of fake news stories, can reporters and editors really afford to simply stop consuming news on these social media networks and risk ending up uninformed on the beats they cover?

That's what Gabriel Snyder is trying to figure out. Snyder, a freelance editor and the former editor of the New Republic, realized during the election that his dependence on Twitter as his primary news source was becoming problematic due to its tendency towards outrage and anger.

"Two thirds or more of the tweets that I was reading were negative," Snyder said. "It just felt really kind of toxic, and it was not a good place to park my brain for as often as I was."

After experimenting with several different methods of breaking his Twitter news habit, Snyder started a drastic new experience back in September where he only read news from publications he paid to subscribe to, and only used Twitter as a one-way street to share stories and keep in touch with other journalists.

"To be an informed citizen, do I need to be hooked up to the fire hose, or can I get by relying on editors to choose the most important stuff for me?" Snyder said. "That's what I'm trying to figure out."

Snyder relies on about 12 paid news sources to keep up to date with what's going...

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