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NY Times bans use of “tweet” except in articles about birds

As if to prove that the New York Times deserves its nickname “the Old Gray Lady,” the daily has banned the word “tweet” from news articles.

“Based on the rationale that only ‘standard English’ should be used in news articles, the New York Times has come to the decision that the word ‘tweet’ – which is used to describe a post on the Twitter microblogging site — is not fit enough to be printed,'” writes Surjit Singh on the New Zealand news website TopNews — citing an internal memo to Times writers:

Asking Times writers to avoid using both the interchangeable noun-verbs, standards editor, Phil Corbett, said in a Wednesday email: “Some social-media fans may disagree, but outside of ornithological contexts, “tweet” has not yet achieved the status of Standard English. And Standard English is what we should use in news articles.”


Though Corbett has acknowledged that “someday” the word “tweet” may become as common as ‘email’, he still insisted that writers should prefer using established usage and ordinary words, instead of the most recent slang or catchphrases.

Noting that Times writers will henceforth stop using the word “tweet,” Corbett further elaborated that since not all people use the micro-blogging site, they may not be familiar with what a “tweet” refers to.

Suggesting more “deft, English alternatives,” Corbett said: “Use Twitter, post to or on Twitter, write on Twitter, a Twitter message, a Twitter update. Or, once you’ve established that Twitter is the medium, simply use ‘say’ or ‘write.’”

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