It’s a big day for Dean Baquet. The recently appointed executive editor of The New York Times has tweeted for the first time.
For his first tweet, Mr. Baquet linked to a story about a funeral for a six-year-old stabbing victim in Brooklyn by metro reporter N.R. “Sonny” Kleinfield:
How to write a funeral story. A great example by Sonny Kleinfeld, who captures a remarkably sad moment in the city. nytimes.com/2014/06/07/nyr…—
Dean Baquet (@deanbaquet) June 09, 2014
Although Mr. Baquet has been on Twitter since 2011, he has not been active on Twitter. He currently only follows 73 accounts and didn’t have many followers until he took over the top spot on the Times masthead almost a month ago. (Promotions will do that).
“I will have more Twitter followers than the executive editor of the Times for about 45 more seconds,” WNYC On The Media producer PJ Vogt tweeted the day Mr. Baquet took over.
But despite the sudden influx of followers, Mr. Baquet waited until today to compose his first tweet. Fair enough; we imagine he’s been a little busy.
Still, it got us wondering about the first tweets of the only other Times executive editors to hold the position in the age of Twitter.
Mr. Keller wrote his first tweet in 2009, two years before the end of his eight year tenure at the top of the masthead. It included a link to a Times story and a play on the Times motto:
Another thoughtful take on Pakistan. All the news that's fit to tweet. http://bit.ly/2ajCp—
Bill Keller (@billkeller2014) May 05, 2009
Despite having embraced the social network on the early side, Mr. Keller has expressed ambivalence about the medium. He wrote a column called “The Twitter Trap” for the Times Magazine in May 2011, shortly after he invited discussion/trolled journalists (depends who you asked) about the failures of Twitter using the hashtag #TwitterMakesYouStupid.
Ms. Abramson first tweeted shortly after it was announced that she would succeed Mr. Keller, but before she had actually taken over:
I'm back from a terrific seminar at the @ArmyWarCollege in Pennsylvania on national security issues. More later…—
Jill Abramson (@JillAbramson) June 09, 2011
Still, Ms. Abramson didn’t become an active tweeter during her time as executive editor of the Times: according to her current account, she has only posted 30 tweets, and her last one was in October 2012 to promote her reader submitted Q&A.
Well, Twitter is, at this point, a necessary component of the job. Journalists, even the executive editor of The New York Times, are encouraged to be accessible and conversational while promoting themselves or their brand. That doesn’t mean that any of these three Times editors to serve during the age of social media are exactly comfortable with it.
But that’s not a bad thing. Twitter can be very time-consuming, and some people have a paper to run.