Axios Co-Founder Calls on Media to Ban Most Social Media Use by Reporters

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Sean Burch
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Axios co-founder Jim VandeHei said that the best way to fight the “fake news” label is to prevent reporters from tweeting about anything beyond their reported stories.

“News organizations should ban their reporters from doing anything on social media — especially Twitter — beyond sharing stories,” VandeHei wrote on Sunday. “Snark, jokes and blatant opinion are showing your hand, and it always seems to be the left one. This makes it impossible to win back the skeptics.”

VandeHei’s suggestion followed a conversation he gave at his alma mater, University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, on how to combat the “fake news” label. It also comes at a time when Republicans and Democrats are increasingly polarized on the role of the mainstream media. Conservatives were 47 percent less likely to agree “media criticism keeps leaders in line” than their liberal counterparts, a Pew Research study found last year.

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While VandeHei didn’t share explicit examples, some reporters have seen firsthand how sharing opinions on social media can come back to haunt them. An example of this is when New York Times reporter Sarah Jeong was lambasted in August after several tweets criticizing white people were discovered.

VandeHei, later in his post, said Axios social media policy “prohibits the sharing of political views or derogatory snark” online. “Don’t say anything on the internet that you wouldn’t publish under your byline or say on TV,” added VandeHei. Axios did not immediately respond to TheWrap asking if any other topics were off-limits for its reporters.

VandeHei’s sentiment wasn’t well received by everyone, however, including New Yorker writer Adam Davidson and Time reporter Karen K. Ho.

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“It’s slightly amusing to see Jim VandeHei lecture social media companies when not so long ago he wrote a [Wall Street Journal] op ed [sic] about how Mark Zuckerberg should be president,” tweeted Daily Beast reporter Maxwell Tani.

I am so much against what @JimVandeHei is saying here that I am lost for words.

I assume that in addition to only sharing stories on twitter, our stories, themselves, should be devoid of any information about the thoughts and feelings of the writer. https://t.co/t8x2Xg1dlZ

— Adam Davidson (@adamdavidson) October 21, 2018

It’s slightly amusing to see Jim VandeHei lecture social media companies when not so long ago he wrote a WSJ op ed about how Mark Zuckerberg should be president.https://t.co/GVVNhrnNyshttps://t.co/NguZG2eRxg pic.twitter.com/GYtJnwQBY8

— Max Tani (@maxwelltani) October 21, 2018

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