By Dave Van Zandt
In a move that has sparked concerns about the public’s confidence in reliable news sources, Twitter has labeled National Public Radio (NPR) as “state-affiliated media.” This label is typically reserved for official state mouthpieces and propaganda outlets in countries like Russia and China.
The move came after Elon Musk, the owner of Twitter, quoted the definition of state-affiliated media in the company’s guidelines and tweeted that it seemed accurate in response to NPR’s labeling. NPR’s CEO, however, called the labeling “unacceptable,” and the literary organization PEN America has called on Twitter to reverse the move. They emphasized that NPR maintains editorial independence and that Twitter’s decision could undermine public confidence in reliable news sources.
NPR operates independently of the US government, and while federal funding is essential to the overall public media system, NPR gets less than 1% of its annual budget from federal sources. Despite this, Twitter has labeled NPR as “state-affiliated media.”
NPR officials have asked Twitter to remove the label.
The full effects of the label are not yet known, but it could reduce NPR’s visibility on the platform. Twitter’s policy states that it will not recommend or amplify accounts or their tweets with these labels to people.
Critics of the move saw it as another sign of Twitter’s troubled relationship with the media, which has deteriorated since Elon Musk bought Twitter last year. The label could also muddy the waters in a news environment where it’s already difficult to decipher which outlets are reliable and have editorial independence.
Twitter’s decision to label NPR as “state-affiliated media” has caused concern among journalists, media organizations, and the public. It remains to be seen whether Twitter will reverse the move or whether it will stand by its decision, which could have a lasting impact on the public’s perception of the media.
Media Bias Fact Check always includes ownership and funding in its source reviews. As such, NPR is not a state-influenced media outlet. Voice of America and Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty are state-affiliated in the USA as the government funds them through the U.S. Agency for Global Media. The USAGM is led by a single chief executive officer appointed by the president of the United States and confirmed by the U.S. Senate. Based on this, these sources tend to promote the agenda of the administration in power, whereas NPR is not influenced in the same way. Elon Musk’s label is not accurate.