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What does a social media editor do?

May 27, 2009

The NYT just hired one and here’s what they told their employees about her and her role.

” One of the bracing things about this topsy-turvy media
landscape is that you can wake up one morning and find yourself
actually doing something you never thought you’d even think about. Take
Jennifer Preston. In 25 years in the news biz, she’s been plenty of
things: Reporter (cop shop, City Hall, Albany, etc.), editor (political
editor, section editor, administrative editor, etc.) and even
circulation marketing manager (at New York Newsday). But still, did she
ever think she’d wake up one morning as “social media editor”?

            No, she didn’t but yes, she did. That morning was this one.

            Jennifer is our first social media editor. What’s that?
It’s someone who concentrates full-time on expanding the use of social
media networks and publishing platforms to improve New York Times
journalism and deliver it to readers.

            Think of Twitter. Did you know that The New York Times
is No. 2 on the Top 100 Twitterholics based on
Followers? (Behind Ashton Kutcher but ahead of Ellen DeGeneres.) Don’t
care? OK, but the point is that an awful lot of people are finding our
work not by coming to our homepage or looking at our newspaper but
through alerts and recommendations from their friends and colleagues.
So we ought to learn how to reach those people effectively and serve
them well. At the same time, more of us are using social networks to
find sources, contacts and information. Like this guy.

            Jennifer will work closely with editors, reporters,
bloggers and others to use social tools to find sources, track trends,
and break news as well as to gather it. She will help us get
comfortable with the techniques, share best practices and guide us on
how to more effectively engage a larger share of the audience on sites
like Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, Flickr, Digg, and beyond.

                  A big part of her job will be keeping everyone up
to date with the rapid developments taking place on the social media
front. She will work closely with social media whizzes in the newsroom
and other departments, including Soraya Darabi in marketing, Jake
Harris in software and Heather Moore in comment moderation, on how news
feeds work and how best to be part of the online conversation. She will
also work closely with Dawn Williamson, Derek Gottfrid and others
involved in building our own social network, Times People, as we
continue to use crowd-sourcing techniques to increase the reach and
quality of our work. She will work with Craig Whitney and others to ask
and answer the many tricky questions that arise in this context: What
is the proper balance between personal and professional? What best
practices should we adopt or adapt? How can we do the new stuff in a
way that honors the old stuff? Etc.

            In a significant way Jennifer will apply the
collaborative techniques of social-networking to her own job, because
of course we all need to figure this out together.”

Posted by Ed Cotton

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