Sunday, May 3, 2009

NYT City Room Editor Patrick LaForge Declares War On NYTPicker!

Patrick LaForge, editor of the NYT's City Room blog, has 2,229 followers on Twitter. It used to be 2,230 -- but that was before LaForge blocked the NYTPicker from following him!

Yes, it's true. LaForge, who famously labeled us "cowards" in a Twitter message last week, has not only removed us from his list of followers, he has also now taken the aggressive step of actually blocking us -- which means that we can't get his Twitter feeds included in our daily diet of Tweets.

For those of you just tuning in, here's the history of the Battle of LaForge.

Ten days ago, the NYTPicker began Twittering (at, where you're all welcome to follow us -- we won't block you!). Within two days, we got a "direct message" via Twitter from LaForge, whose Twitters we'd already been following with fascination at

"You should stop being a coward and use your real name. :)"

As regular readers of NYTPicker know, we posted LaForge's message, along with a lengthy response that explained the reasoning behind the NYTPicker's anonymity. Within hours, we observed LaForge Twittering this:

#Twitter, is it OK to quote a Direct Message without permission?

Sometime later, LaForge got this response from Vindu Goel, the NYT's deputy technology editor:

No, a direct message is private unless you get explicit permission to RT.

We're not sure what "RT" means but we think it might stand for "re-tweet."

What's up with these NYT journalists? The NYTPicker is obviously a media outlet -- we explicitly declare that we cover the NYT, we report on its content and its staff, and we adhere to all the standard rules of the profession.

One of the most widely-accepted rules of the profession is that when you communicate with a journalist -- on the phone, via email, or whatever -- you'd better say when something is off the record if you want to keep those comments private. Otherwise, the journalist might quote you!

For LaForge to fall back on some abstract notion of Twitter protocol seems a little silly, doesn't it? Why should there be special rules that apply only to Twitter communications? A "message" is the same as an email or a letter or a phone call. Right, guys? Isn't that what Bill Keller would tell you?

Honestly, we get a kick out of LaForge's desire to keep The NYTPicker from following him. He's the first Twitterer to "block" us. It's an honor, really.

Patrick, we'll still be enjoying your Twitter updates by going to It's the Internet, dude. You can run, but you can't hide.


Anonymous said...

You can get obsessed from time to time with the picayune and sometimes, to my mind, you completely miss the point (as with Becker and Morgensen's terrific piece, which demonstrated how completely Geithner was embedded in the world and culture he was supposed to regulate as NY Fed chief). But you run and interesting blog and LaForge needs to chill ...

Anonymous said...

There's no reason to follow LaForge's tweets unless you're looking for something to lull you to sleep.

Anonymous said...

Oh, one other thought:

The email/twittered protocol is curious. I tend to view these as off the record, unless explicitly stated otherwise.
But I acknowledge that other reporters view otherwise.

Anonymous said...

Lighten up, LaForge!

Anonymous said...

At the Times, only wimps lighten up. Mr. LaForge, after all, is a Blog Editor! There's only twenty! or thirty! or forty! of them.
Show some respect!

Anonymous said...

I'm getting a teensy little crush on Nytpicker.

Anonymous said...

"No, a direct message is private unless you get explicit permission to RT."

It's the freakin' INTERNET! Nothing is private!!

They really are in their own little world over there ...