Alums Chancellor Johnson, Rachel Bachman, and Kris Rhim detail social media changes.
May 30, 2023

How SJI alums are adjusting to a new Twitter world

Kobe Mosley

Since buying Twitter last October, CEO Elon Musk has slowly changed the landscape of the popular social media platform. It began with firing top executives, rounds of layoffs, and forming a “content moderation council.”

Now, he has changed what it means to be verified. 

For $8 a month, users can subscribe to Twitter Blue, receive a blue checkmark, and get features such as posting longer videos and editing a tweet. Without a subscription, countless users — including the Sports Journalist Institute alums — have been stripped of their blue checkmarks. The question arises: How are they adjusting to this new world of Twitter?

Rachel Bachman, a senior sports reporter for The Wall Street Journal and SJI alum, says that the mass disappearance of blue checkmarks has added unnecessary steps to her work. 

“I think it's made my job more difficult,” Bachman said. “... I find myself sort of poking around to see if I can confirm that that person is who they say they are before believing them or believing what they say.”

Now without a blue checkmark, Bachman does not plan on trying to get it back — mainly because her employer will not pay for it but also due to the system’s current makeup.

“Our news organization charges people for the service that we provide, so I certainly understand why Twitter would want to do that,” Bachman said. “The issue I have with the current system is that it doesn't necessarily solve the problem of verifying someone's identity.”

Kris Rhim, sports reporting fellow for The New York Times and SJI alum, also does not plan on subscribing to Twitter Blue. 

Like Bachman, he lost his blue checkmark and the rest of the organization. While he does miss the visible credibility and uses the verified notifications tab, Rhim does not see a point in paying the $8 fee.

“I think Twitter Blue has good things in it — one of them is the editing part of it. But I also think the model of Twitter Blue is one where I think, ‘Who is going to pay for it?’”

One group of people that Rhim does think it can benefit are content creators. Chancellor Johnson agrees.

Johnson, a sports reporter and anchor at KPRC 2 in Houston and SJI alum, bought Twitter Blue, citing the ability to post longer videos.

“Having the ability to do that and post long-form videos is pretty important to me,” Johnson said. “To be honest, if it wasn't for that exact feature … I wouldn't even have it.”

While he currently uses Twitter for several aspects of his job now, he predicts a decline at some point.

“Social media platforms don't last,” Johnson said. MySpace,  SnapChat, Google Plus, Tumblr and Vine are among the platforms that are  dead or in great decline. “They all have a shelf life.”

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