Wall Street Journal Poaches New York Times Social Media Editor Liz Heron

The New York Times social media editor Liz Heron has jumped to rival Wall Street Journal, according to an internal memo sent out today by  Journal digital managing editor Raju Narisetti. She replaces Zach Seward, who left late last month to help launch a business news product at Atlantic Media, although the role has been expanded, according to a company spokeswoman. Her official title is “Director, Social Media and Engagement.”

She will lead a growing a team and report to Mr. Narisetti, a former Journal deputy managing editor who returned to the Wall Street Journal last month after a three-year stint at The Washington Post immediately following the Murdoch takeover. When he stepped down as managing editor of the Post, editor Marcus Baruchli credited him with increasing the paper’s web traffic.

In the memo, reproduced below, managing editor Robert Thomson praised Ms. Heron’s “e-empathy and e-expertise.”

—–Original Message—–
From: Narisetti, Raju
Sent: Thursday, March 15, 2012 3:58 PM
To: WSJ All News Staff
Subject: Our New Social Media editor

Colleagues
I am delighted to announce that Liz Heron is joining the newsroom as Director, Social Media and Engagement for The Wall Street Journal Digital Network. In this pivotal role, Liz will lead a growing team that will be ever more focused on deepening the engagement we have with existing readers globally, as well as expanding our audiences, both on our own platforms as well as in social media.

“Liz is a renowned digital alchemist,” notes Robert. “Her e-empathy and e-expertise will be crucial in building engagement with our vast and growing audience, in the US and globally. A contemporary media organization can never have too much innovation.”

In her current job as a Social Media editor at The New York Times, Liz defined its overall social media sensibility, and established new ways of storytelling, gathering news and distributing journalism using social tools. She worked to put social media front and center during live coverage at a time when events such as the Arab Spring, the death of Steve Jobs, the Occupy Wall Street movement and other news events were changing the way journalists and readers approach major news. As the lead social editor on the U.S. elections, she has developed projects that emphasize reader participation in newsgathering, and experimented with social video. Liz also developed strategies for innovating on new platforms such as Google+, and set standards for individuals and desks when it came to using Twitter and Facebook for journalism.

Previously, Liz was the digital innovations editor on the Foreign desk of The Washington Post, where she first began experimenting with social media to cover stories such as the Iranian revolution and the 2010 earthquake that devastated Haiti. In her 10-year career as a journalist, she has also worked at ABC News and the Associated Press as a producer and reporter. Liz is also a sought-after public speaker when it comes to social media innovation and best practices.

Liz will be based in New York and report to me. Please join me in congratulating and welcoming Liz (@LHeron), whose official start date will be April 9.

Raju