Dean Baquet to High Priest of New Media: Drop Dead

Dean Baquet to High Priest of New Media: Drop Dead
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Bless me Father for I have sinned and it has been four months since my last tweet as the executive editor of The New York Times.

Before that, it had been one day since my next-to-last tweet. Before that I managed no tweets at all, not even when the guardian of the flame said I was a better man than Jill Abramson, who has an active Twitter account but no job in journalism. In my entire career, dear Father, I have tweeted but twice and tasted of death not once until now.

I know I am supposed to tweet. I know I am supposed to post--and like and follow and comment and share--I know that somehow what is happening online is supposed to be even bigger and more important than The New York Times, which is as big and important as it gets. But as I wrote after I was roasted and rousted: "You will forgive me for noting that it sounds like a new priesthood is being created, with new rules for entry."

I used to be a priest myself, albeit of the old journalism, and know the sin of sanctimony to the bottom of my soul.

"One of the biggest criticisms aimed at my generation of editors," I wrote as my mea maxima culpa, "is that we created a priesthood, that we decided who was a journalist and who was not. If you hadn't done cops and courts you weren't a journalist, etc. That characterization was right on. We deserved the hit."

We deserved the pain, Father. We deserved the hit. Because we priests of the old journalism, old and foolish, paid for our sins with our sorrow as the world passed us by.

My faith, of course, is flagging, because I work for a newspaper, and fresh hell awaits newspapers every single day. Would that we could go back to the 20th Century when all men wore watches before they were wearables and The Old Grey Lady was somehow new every day.

Have I sinned? Of course I have. I was an arrogant priest and now I look like a clueless idiot deflecting blame with a bitch-slap of irrelevance about something I don't understand. But in the sinning I have warned believers and heretics alike to beware the new media priesthood--to beware people like you, Father, who commit the savage sin of pride merely because you came to an obvious conclusion first.

I want to believe. I want to believe that Twitter matters, that Facebook matters, that all manner of social media matters. But remember this, dear Father: no social media platform, no new media gadget or gizmo, no matter how cool, will ever deflect The New York Times from its preordained trajectory through the center of the universe. That's just a fact, albeit one you will never find in the pages of my newspaper.

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