The debate over which business model has a brighter future—The Gray Lady or the bright, shiny penny that is Twitter—spilled over into media circles this last week.
In the world of PR, the discussion has been taking place in client meetings and communications planning sessions for several years. Still, it remains unclear whether the industry has placed its bets on either model just yet.
Peter Thiel, however, has.
The PayPal co-founder and online trendsetter added fuel to that particular fire at a recent press conference when he declared that Twitter will outlast The New York Times
. Thiel contended that “Twitter’s roughly 1,000 employees will have jobs a decade from now,” while Times
' journalists should be worried about their jobs because the newspaper “is not guaranteed a future in the digital age.”
Most of the communications world has already seen the steep decline of traditional media in favor of quick, instantaneous communications platforms such as Twitter. This is particularly true with breaking news, as unfiltered newsfeeds on Twitter overtake the several-hour delay of traditional media outlets.
Everyone knows the faults inherent in Twitter news updates—unconfirmed reports, hearsay, rumors—but the power is phenomenal. There are no paywalls and no lumbering editing processes, and its live coverage can’t be touched.
remains the go-to source for the story behind the stories. They invented the long-form story. They can eat up 140 characters just in a headline. The Times
is no longer a source for breaking news, but it gave up that designation long ago.
During the last election campaign, the world of Twitter and the Times
overlapped as the paper’s online site ran a live Twitter feed, providing up-to-the minute updates. But it still didn’t compare to getting the unfiltered scrolling feed direct from Twitter, which offered updates with a sprinkling (or more) of commentary.
In the communications business, we’ve been using Twitter to send our messages directly to our audiences for years. The Times
is still a must-read, but many PR practitioners stopped pitching the Times years ago, rightfully assuming that getting a Times
reporter to cover a story is as easy as getting on “The Ellen Degeneres Show.”
But don’t write the paper’s obituary quite yet. Even Thiel might not practice what he preaches. His Twitter account has 26,000 followers, and he has yet to tweet even once—but it's likely he reads the Times
Gil Rudawsky heads the crisis communication and issues management practice at GroundFloor Media in Denver. He is a former reporter and editor. Read his blog or contact him at email@example.com.