But it is a beat, apparently! On Monday Jennifer Preston announced via Twitter that she was stepping down as the New York Times’s Social Media Editor and will go back to reporting…on social media. Today Poynter spoke with Preston, who elaborated on her Tweet-evangelizing role:
While some journalists at the Times were already using those sites, there wasn’t a newsroom-wide understanding of why the tools mattered. “At the beginning there was some resistance among my colleagues about using these tools,” Preston said.
As social media editor, Preston met regularly with section editors and reporters to demonstrate how they could use social media tools not just to promote content but to build communities and attract new audiences.
Preston had nice things to say about her job, but we can’t say we envy her. The prospect of having to sell a bird-bedecked, Bieber-beloved platform to a room of established, busy, and maybe crusty journalists makes our palms sweat. But since a few major news stories unfolded on Twitter, everyone got wise and now microblogging needs no spokesperson.
The Gray Lady’s social media duties will fall to Aron Pilhofer and the interactive newsroom, who are tasked with re-purposing and upgrading existing social media for journalistic purposes, like creating Twitter filters to help reporters trace stories back to sources.
“Part of the advantage is that if there’s a tool that we don’t have or we don’t need or doesn’t exist, we’ll simply build it,” Pilhofer said by phone. “This is something that we’re uniquely positioned to do. We can make the business case for these projects and say, ‘Here’s why this is important and here’s why it’s an editorial priority.'”
We bet there’s some money in that for a newsy coder!