April 19, 2023

Local public radio station ceases use of Twitter

The battle whether public broadcasting and other non-profit outlets should use the social media platform Twitter came to a head last week when the national NPR account stopped posting to the platform after it was labeled “state-sponsored media.”

National Public Radio affiliate KUNM-FM, based out of Albuquerque, announced Friday it would cease sharing its work on Twitter due to both the label and decreased engagement in recent months.

KUNM News Director Megan Kamerick spoke to NM Political Report Monday about the decision to cease posting its work to Twitter.

Kamerick was reminded of her friend, NPR’s Alicia Shepard who died on April 1 from lung cancer. 

As a memorial for Shepard, her friends created a faux-New York Times page with a quote about journalism, Kamerick said.

“Basically, ‘beware journalism or news media. Your credibility is the only thing you have’,” Kamerick said. “I’m very worried about the steps (Twitter) took around NPR and labeling of that. Apparently, there were talks with (Elon) Musk and he sort of said, ‘well, maybe I’ll switch it to this and it’s unclear.’ You can’t go around being branded with the same labels like they use for literally government-funded outlets… even the government-funded media is misleading.”

“State-sponsored media” is a term Twitter traditionally used for propaganda accounts such as ITAR-Tass in Russia and China’s Xinhua News.

The label was modified to reflect that NPR is “government-funded media” which is also a misnomer since NPR is primarily funded by its listeners.

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation also paused its use of Twitter this week.

“NPR is a private, nonprofit company with editorial independence. It receives less than 1% of its $300 million annual budget from the federally funded Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB),” KUNM posted to its website Friday.

Another reason KUNM left Twitter was a distinct fall in engagement on the platform.

Click-through rates have fallen over the last six months as have stand engagement such as likes, comments and retweets, Kamerick said.

KRWG, the NPR/PBS station out of New Mexico State University in Las Cruces plans to remain on Twitter for now.

“We continue to use Twitter to share accurate news, new content, and important station updates with our digital audience that we have invested in growing to better serve the communities in our region that have already been impacted by the loss of many local news resources,” KRWG Public Media Content Director Anthony Moreno told NM Political Report  via email Monday.

New Mexico PBS also plans to continue using its Twitter account.

“We have used Twitter for the past decade and continue to do so when it makes sense for reaching our audience. NMPBS’ Twitter accounts have not been inaccurately labeled currently, so we plan to continue to use them for the time being. This is a rapidly evolving situation which we continue to monitor, and our stance/use may change accordingly,” New Mexico PBS Communications Manager Michael Privett said via email Monday.

Privett also said that NM PBS is an independent television station and that PBS “doesn’t speak for us regarding our social media policies, nor do we speak for them.”

The NMPolitical Report Twitter account has been dormant since April 13.