Thursday, June 17, 2010


Yup, the 'ol Grey Lady has a little problemo with using "tweet" in a news story.

I work as an online editor at a daily paper and we use 'tweet' all the time. I guess we're not as
sophisticated as America's 'Newspaper of Record' whose staff is forbidden to utilize the word "tweet" as both a noun ("a Twitter message") and a verb ("to send a Twitter message").

In a memo leaked to The Awl, New York Times Standards Editor Phil Corbett advises not to use the word, writing "outside of ornithological
contexts, "tweet" has not yet achieved the status of standard English. And standard English is what we should use in news articles."

So what are his suggestions for an alternative? He says, "deft, English alternatives: use Twitter, post to or on Twitter, write on Twitter, a Twitter message, a Twitter update."

The buzz is that newsroom scribes replied to his memo defending the use of the word "tweet."

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  1. I guess the "old folks" who read their paper aren't as technologically savvy as we are ;-)

  2. I would normally not do this, but there is a blog that you may have an interest in. It is a blog from a prison inmate whose submissions are posted by his sister. I would like to see him get some support and show him that some people care. Five entries have been posted so far so it is easy to start from the beginning of the story. I hope you will check it out and let him know what you think. And if you feel so inclined please let others know.

    The Saga of the Concrete Jungle

    Thanks for you time.
    Tossing It Out

  3. Damn, and I went and spent all that money on t-shirts that said, "All the news that is fit to Tweet."

  4. My initial reaction is that they're being stupid. "tweet" is the common term for expressing things through Twitter amongst the majority of Twitter users. It is common. Unlike coding language or scientific jargon, the Twitter user base is so massive that the particular piece of jargon for using Twitter ought to stand.

    But upon a little reflection, a lot of NYTimes readers may not know what the heck "tweet" means because they're not in the technosphere. It's annoying to us, but not to the army of grandpas that still subscribe to the paper magazine.


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