News Outlets Struggle To Decide: Do We Pay For Journalists’ Twitter Blue?

There are a wide range of considerations for why an outlet might want to retain verified status for its journalists. A newsroom leader at an entertainment news outlet who was not authorized to speak about its policy told BuzzFeed News that the publication will probably end up paying for verification. Although this outlet is at lower risk for the kind of misinformation that might start World War III, it has an ongoing problem with scammers trying to swindle money out of music artists by pretending to write for the publication and asking them to pay for (fake) coverage. 

Geoffrey Ingersoll, editor-in-chief of the Daily Caller, told BuzzFeed News that his organization will probably do the enterprise version, even though he personally did not intend to keep his checkmark. “I had planned to let mine lapse because I have no interest in being nerd famous among journalists on Twitter,” he said. “Ever since verification became a pay-for, it’s lost its utility for me — particularly searching tweets from verified-only people to get a sense of where the media is taking a story.”  

The Daily Caller hasn’t decided which people in the newsroom will stay verified as part of the five-account package, and the outlet plans on reviewing the analytics in a few months to see if the payment is worth it.

Insider also doesn’t plan on paying for its journalists’ checks. “The value of a blue checkmark was that it said the person was who they said they are,” editor-in-chief Nicholas Carlson told BuzzFeed News. “Now a blue checkmark just says they are a Twitter Blue subscriber. That doesn’t help Twitter users or our readers.”

Similarly, Politico will not pay for staffers’ checks. “In the future, a checkmark will no longer mean you are a verified journalist. Instead, it will simply mean you are paying for benefits such as longer tweets and fewer ads,” wrote Anita Kumar, Politico’s senior editor of standards and ethics, in a message to the newsroom shared with BuzzFeed News. “Politico will not pay for you to subscribe to Twitter Blue. You may, of course, enroll at your own expense.”

For freelance and independent journalists, it may be worth it though. “I’m definitely paying for Twitter Blue. In fact, I signed up this week,” said Alex Kantrowitz, a former BuzzFeed News staffer who writes the Substack newsletter Big Technology. “I don’t care about the blue checkmark, which might be a liability at this point. But getting added distribution in the For You tab is worth it for me at $8/month, given that distribution is the lifeblood of smaller media brands like Big Technology.”

Beyond getting a blue checkmark, Twitter Blue includes features such as the ability to see the most shared articles by people you follow on Twitter, which many journalists find useful. Twitter is also apparently working on a way to allow Blue subscribers to hide their checkmark, which might make paying the modest fee more appealing to someone who just wants the features but thinks the check looks cringe.

BuzzFeed Inc. (which includes the various accounts for BuzzFeed, BuzzFeed News, Tasty, HuffPost, and Complex) does not plan on paying for or allowing employees to expense blue checks. “As a company, we do not think it’s a wise use of resources to pay for individuals to retain a blue checkmark that is no different from anyone else’s — an amateur medical expert, Elon stan, or otherwise — who is simply willing to pay the fee for a blue check,” said BuzzFeed News editor-in-chief Karolina Waclawiak.

Ellie Hall and Tom Warren contributed reporting to this story.