NPR Walks Away from Twitter After ‘Government-Funded’ Label

NPR has become the first major news organization to officially walk away from Twitter after clashing with the platform’s owner Elon Musk over labels that the broadcaster believes undermine its credibility.

“NPR’s organizational accounts will no longer be active on Twitter because the platform is taking actions that undermine our credibility by falsely implying that we are not editorially independent,” the news organization said in a statement Wednesday.

NPR’s main account was first labeled on Twitter as “state-affiliated media” last week, the same label used to identify propaganda outlets in countries with authoritarian governments like Russia and China. 

This label was later changed to “government-funded media” after NPR tech reporter Bobby Allyn asked Musk about the first label and the latter responded by asking how the broadcaster functioned. NPR said that this new label is inaccurate and misleading.

The news organization, which is a private, nonprofit company with editorial independence, receives less than 1% of its $300 million annual budget from the federally funded Corporation for Public Broadcasting. This is explained on this part of their website, which Musk seems to have not read, based on his tweet below.

“The whole point isn’t whether or not we’re government funded,” NPR CEO John Lansing said. “Even if we were government funded, which we’re not, the point is the independence, because all journalism has revenue of some sort.”

NPR will only stop posting on its own official accounts and has said that NPR journalists and employees “will decide on their own if they wish to remain on the platform, same for NPR member stations as they’re independently owned and operated.”

According to the broadcaster in this article, it’s unclear whether leaving the platform will impact its reach. While it has a million more followers on Twitter than it has on Facebook, its posts on Facebook “often are far more likely to spur engagement or click-throughs to NPR’s own website.”

NPR Music, on the other hand, has almost 10 times more followers on YouTube, where it primarily streams its “Tiny Desk Series.”

Musk also gave the “government-funded media” label to BBC and PBS.

PBS Has Also Stopped Tweeting

PBS has not posted on the platform since April 8, when it received its label. Spokesman Jason Phelps has addressed this in an email to Bloomberg.

“PBS stopped tweeting from our account when we learned of the change and we have no plans to resume at this time,” he wrote. “We are continuing to monitor the ever-changing situation closely.”

This is the latest in Musk’s erratic and inconsistent treatment of mainstream news organizations that do not adhere to his views. The Twitter owner recently removed The New York Times’ verification check mark, seemingly on a whim, after a user pointed out that the publication said that it will not be paying for Twitter verification.

BBC Interview

In an interview with James Clayton on BBC News on Tuesday evening, Musk said that they would adjust its label for the British network to “publicly funded,” and also said that the same label would apply to NPR.

“We’re trying to be accurate,” he said. “I actually do have a lot of respect for the BBC,” adding that the interview gave him a chance to “get some feedback on what we should be doing different.”

The label for BBC has been changed as of this writing, but it still leads to the page with information about government and state-affiliated media. The label for NPR has not been updated as of this writing.

Information for this briefing was found via NPR, Bloomberg, CNN, BBC, and the sources and companies mentioned. The author has no securities or affiliations related to the organizations discussed. Not a recommendation to buy or sell. Always do additional research and consult a professional before purchasing a security. The author holds no licenses.

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