WEKU follows Lexington Times, NPR in quitting Twitter

Richmond, Ky.–Kentucky-based radio station WEKU has joined The Lexington Times and NPR in abandoning Twitter, following the national news organization’s classification as “state-affiliated media.” Twitter’s change in ownership to Elon Musk has resulted in modifications to the social media platform, including adding labels to some verified accounts. These labels are intended to provide “additional context about accounts that are controlled by certain official representatives of governments, state-affiliated media entities and individuals associated with those entities.”

However, NPR and WEKU feel that this label is incorrect and offensive, as the term “state-affiliated media” is typically associated with propaganda news outlets in countries such as Russia and China. NPR claims that less than 1% of its funding comes from government sources, yet it was still labeled as “state-affiliated media” by Twitter. As a result, NPR and WEKU have chosen to exit Twitter to protect their credibility as independent journalism sources.

Mike Savage, the director and general manager of WEKU, told the Herald-Leader that the decision to leave Twitter was not a business decision but rather one based on principle. Savage believes that Twitter has a credibility problem as a platform, and he did not want to associate WEKU’s content with it. While WEKU has a relatively small Twitter following, the station will move to other social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram.

Louisville Public Media, a non-profit news organization in Louisville that includes NPR-affiliate station WFPL, will continue to use Twitter for the time being. The organization’s president and CEO, Stephen George, stated that while LPM stands with NPR, they are also independent of it and serve a distinct local audience on Twitter. However, George also said that LPM may reconsider their decision if Twitter expands its disinformation campaign against public media or if its leadership continues to undermine independent journalism.

NPR’s CEO, John Lansing, said that the decision to leave Twitter was made to protect the national station’s credibility, and they have no plans to return to using Twitter. “At this point, I have lost my faith in the decision-making at Twitter,” Lansing said. “I would need some time to understand whether Twitter can be trusted again.”

WEKU believes that Twitter’s mislabeling of NPR is an attack on independent journalism and undermines the credibility of the platform. While Twitter has made changes since Musk’s takeover, NPR and WEKU’s exit may prompt the social media platform to reconsider its policies regarding the labeling of verified accounts.

The Lexington Times quit Twitter in December after several national journalists were banned.

Photo: Elon Musk recently acquired Twitter. (Creative Commons)