Less than a month after 9News's Gary Shapiro caused a tweetstorm by bluntly refuting Twitter charges of fake news, the veteran morning anchor has announced that he will stop posting as he has been out of frustration over what he characterizes as the commandeering of his account.
"My feed has been taken over by tons and tons of people who are from out of state and probably don't even know who I am," Shapiro says. "So except for tweeting about breaking news and weather, I'm going to shut it down."
On December 11, Shapiro, who's among the most likable and congenial presences on Denver TV, turned heads with a post that read: "Today I had to mute 20 people on this thread. Just a reminder, we do not report fake news. If all you have to add to the discussion is 'fake news,' you are off the thread. Really, that's all you can add? That's all you have to say? It's like a bunch of 6th graders."
The responses to this assertion varied widely, with plenty of Tweeters agreeing with him and others offering responses like these:
Way to alienate viewership by rt 9News! What a big fat baby! Teach em a lesson big man! They may be 6th grade equivalents, but I’d peg Gary’s arrested development at 4 years of age. Recently potty trained and schooling ALL in his success! Oh and he can READ!
Fill in the blank. _ _ _ _ news.
What about news extremely to the left?
So you get to decide what is "adding to the conversation"? And if the words "fake news" are used in the conversation, you block someone? You make all the rules and decide what is honest and true? Hmmmm.... That should go well giving you all the power.
How bout put some effort into the reporting. Lazy biased reporting. Can’t remember the last nice thing you said about trump Nd he’s doing a hell of a job.
Grow up Gary! Fake news = biased news, since none of you at @9NEWS can figure that out.
Of the tweets that were muted, Shapiro told us that many simply consisted of "#fakenews," which made him wonder if the senders were bots — "especially if it's a person who doesn't have a picture up, and if you click on their Twitter handle, they have six followers or something like that. I think most people on Twitter know more than six people."
He added that these days, people across the political spectrum "consider something 'fake news' if they don't like the news of the day. I got barraged by Trump supporters [on the 11th], but we get it from the other side all the time. That's why we work really hard to make sure what we put on TV, and also on Twitter, is accurate."
At first Shapiro hoped that by muting the worst offenders, he could continue tweeting. But in recent weeks, he says, things have gotten worse, leading to this January 7 message: "It's obvious my Twitter feed has been hijacked by people who are not viewers of 9News, don't care about accurate reporting or facts, and just want to troll me. It's not good for anyone. I will be shutting it down, except for breaking news or weather. Feel free to follow @9NEWS."
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No single reply convinced Shapiro to change his approach. But shortly before sending the tweet above, he says, "someone was yelling at me on Twitter about something I posted in November 2016 — something that had to do with Hillary Clinton and the election. I looked back at it and thought, 'Why did you bring this up now? This is just crazy.'"
Kyle Clark, Shapiro's 9News colleague, is the Denver journalism world's acknowledged social-media king, and he's not ready to abandon Twitter or his 80,000-plus followers. But he understands why Shapiro has chosen a different course.
"I don't blame @GShapiro9News for leaving Twitter," Clark tweeted after Shapiro's announcement. "It used to be interesting to mix it up with Coloradans about issues of the day. Can't speak for Gary, but now my mentions are anonymous, out-of-state accounts screaming conspiracies and harassing Coloradans who engage with me."
Adds Shapiro: "I really liked connecting with people on Colorado stories and getting their take and discussing the news — and I have a lot of great Twitter followers who I'm sure get their news from me in the morning. So if there's breaking news or an important weather story, I'll tweet about that." Otherwise, though, "it's just not worth the hassle anymore."