NYT Hires, Fires Opinion Writer on Same Day After Homophobic, N-Word Tweets Resurface

“I’m sorry I can’t do the work I wanted to do with them… but ultimately, they need to feel safe with how the net will react to their opinion writers” tech writer Quinn Norton tweets

Last Updated: February 14, 2018 @ 6:28 AM

Around seven hours after she was hired as a member of the New York Times editorial board, tech writer Quinn Norton was fired after her Twitter history was resurfaced, which included homophobic and racist slurs she said were taken out of context.

Quinn, whose work has appeared in Wired News, The Guardian, and Maximum PC among other publications, was announced Tuesday as the board’s “lead opinion writer on the power, culture and consequences of technology.” It was shortly after that a social media firestorm erupted, as Twitter users brought up old tweets where she frequently used anti-gay slurs, the n-word and defended her friendship with Neo-Nazis. (Quinn said at the time however that she “never agreed with them.”)

On Tuesday afternoon, the Times said in a statement that it was “very concerned” about the uproar. And around 9:00 p.m., Norton announced on Twitter that she would not be working for NYT after all. “No harm no foul,” she tweeted. “I’m sorry I can’t do the work I wanted to do with them. I wish there had been a way, but ultimately, they need to feel safe with how the net will react to their opinion writers.”

“Despite our review of Quinn Norton’s work and our conversations with her previous employers, this was new information to us. Based on it, we’ve decided to go our separate ways,” The Times said in a statement soon after.

Earlier in the day, Norton attributed the outcry to context collapse, an academic concept that essentially means the wider an audience gets, the more likely tone and presentation of self-aimed at narrower audiences can be misunderstood. In that light, she attempted to explain the earlier comments in a lengthy twitter thread.

“You were powerful today. You changed at least one person’s life, and if I’m honest, my family’s too. It feels good to be powerful,” Quinn tweeted. But this power doesn’t go away. It doesn’t evaporate when you use it without thinking, or at the wrong person.”