NY Times names first social media editor

In an attempt to keep up with new media changes and expand the use of social media tools, The New York Times has created a new position, social media editor.

Jennifer Preston has been named the Times‘ first social media editor, according to a newsroom memo originally posted by the Nieman Journalism Lab and added to this article at The Guardian.

Preston is the former editor of the paper’s regional section.

Her job? Deputy managing editor Jonathan Landman said in the memo:

“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.”

Parr figures the value of the position will be entirely dependent on the work of the person, Preston in this case. He concludes:

“We’re glad that they’re taking social media seriously, though, and
believe that the NYT could set a new trend for newspapers embracing
social tools.”

The Guardian notes that since the announcement, a blogger at ReadWriteWeb looked into Preston’s social media habits and found “found her presence up until now to be thin and mostly behind a wall of privacy.” But since the appointment, she has taken her Twitter account public and seeking feedback from Times readers.

Ben Parr at Mashable wonders if a social media editor is really necessary. He wrote:

“The New York Times has some great writers, editors, and bloggers that already seem to have the social media expertise to steer the newspaper in the right direction (i.e. @brianstelter). Consolidating social strategy and having one person direct operations could help, but only if he or she is socially savvy and open to feedback and new connections. To be honest, it didn’t help that Jennifer Preston protected her Twitter updates until after the news broke.”