NPR is “state-affiliated media”? PMJA tells Twitter NO!

PMJA News,

On April 4, 2023 Twitter added a "state-affiliated media" tag to NPR's main Twitter account.  PMJA responded to Twitter via this open letter.  Read more about the story from NPR.

Twitter’s addition of the “State-Affiliated Media” label to NPR’s account is of grave concern to Public Media JournalistsNPR Twitter screenshot by PMJA Association – and should concern anyone who believes in editorial integrity and the right to a free press. Prior to this week, the label “State-Affiliated Media” was reserved for those media outlets in foreign countries in which the editorial content is dictated by the government.  The use of the State-Affiliated Media label on NPR’s account is misleading to the public. Associating NPR – an independent news organization – with other foreign media that are run by non-democratic governments, gives the appearance that NPR is not to be trusted. 

By labeling the NPR account in such a way, Twitter has gone against its own stated policy. A search on Twitter after the account was flagged specifically uses NPR as an example of media that are NOT defined by Twitter as state-affiliated media. From Twitter’s own support page: 

How state-affiliated media accounts are defined 
State-affiliated media is defined as outlets where the state exercises control over editorial content through financial resources, direct or indirect political pressures, and/or control over production and distribution. Accounts belonging to state-affiliated media entities, their editors-in-chief, and/or their senior staff may be labeled. 

State-financed media organizations with editorial independence, like the BBC in the UK or NPR in the US for example, are not defined as state-affiliated media for the purposes of this policy.

(Note: A search on Twitter’s support site finds some pages that use NPR as an example, and other pages that limit the examples to the BBC)

Why, then, has Twitter labeled NPR as “US state-affiliated media”? For now, it seems to be the only outlet carrying that label. What is to prevent Twitter from labeling every local public media outlet in the United States in the same way even though every outlet is editorially independent? This inaccurate label is a disservice to our democracy. The U.S. government has no editorial control over NPR or any of the public media outlets across the country. 

PMJA supports National Public Radio and all public media organizations and requests that Twitter remove the label from NPR’s account and avoid this label for any independent media outlet in the United States.   


Public Media Journalists Association 

Priska Neely, President 

Christine Paige Diers, Executive Director