I think it’s probably safe to say that most newspapers would prefer to merely print the news rather than make the news. Unfortunately, there are times when the news outlet becomes the headline. That’s just what happened earlier this month when the New York Times sent out an alert that bed bugs had been found in its newsroom and throughout its offices. Needless to say, social media was quick to make hay out of the Gray Lady’s distress.
The bed bug brouhaha began when a New York Times’ internal memo was leaked to rival news outlets. The memo had been issued to employees and support staff to inform them of management’s discovery of “evidence of bed bug activity in a wellness room on the second floor, a couch on the third floor and a booth on the fourth floor”.
Exterminators on the Scene
Additional evidence of bed bug activity was also found in and around a number of personal lockers, also on the third floor. Employees with access to those lockers were notified, presumable with the intention of cleaning out the lockers and treating the affected areas.
The New York Times’ memo went on to assure staff that exterminators had been called in to address the bed bug issue. It went on to inform employees that “the second floor room has been closed, the booth has been blocked off, and the couch has been removed to be treated and professionally cleaned.”
Social Media Picks Up the Story
Of course, it didn’t take long before social media picked up on the story and the New York Times began trending for all of the wrong reasons. Every media outlet has its rivals, and you can’t be in the news industry for 167 years without making a few enemies. For many pundits and media rivals this was too good of an opportunity to pass up.
Bed Bugs and Ballyhoo
Twitter quickly exploded with users taking pot shots at the Gray Lady’s bed bug woes. Of course, bed bugs can turn up anywhere. While some Twitter users were happy to imply that the presence of bed bugs at the New York Times proved that the paper, and by extension its reporters, were filthy and slovenly anyone with experience of bed bugs knows better. These parasites can turn up anywhere you find human beings, and reporters are human beings – aren’t they?