USA Today has announced the appointment of a social media editor and social media analyst, while the New York Times has just folded the social media editor position into the responsibilities of the interactive news team.
Michelle Kessler, formerly a USA Today tech reporter and editor, is now social media editor for the paper and hence responsible for social media initiatives throughout the newsroom. She will help run social.usatoday.com, which provides updates about the paper's social media activities, and @SocialUSAToday, the paper's rebranded Twitter account.
The new social media analyst for USA Today's product development team is Glenna DeRoy, formerly an online editor. Her job will be to "measure and analyze USA TODAY's current social media efforts and look for ways to make all of USA TODAY's products more social media-friendly," USA Today said. Her work will help inform USA Today's social media strategy and best practices.
The paper is looking to appoint a social media manager, who would be responsible for "setting social media strategy as part of developing new and existing products," the job posting said. The social media analyst will report to this person, and the manager will also work closely with search engine optimization and user interface analysts. The aim is to up both user engagement and "advertiser fulfillment."
Meanwhile, the New York Times' social media editor Jennifer Preston, who was appointed to the position when was created in May 2009, is returning to reporting. Preston will now report on social media with a "keen interest in politics," she specified on her Twitter feed.
Aron Pilhofer, editor of Interactive News at the NYT, will now lead the paper's social media efforts. Journalism.co.uk quoted a NYT staff memo written by executive editor Bill Keller which said that "Aron and his development group... have long played a role behind the scenes building the technical resources for our Twitter and Facebook presences."
According to Preston on Twitter, Pilhofer "is fabulous and runs an amazing team of great developers who will help us bring our efforts to the next level."
Under Preston, the New York Times significantly expanded its presence on Twitter and Facebook, reaching close to a million fans on its main page on the latter and creating many niche pages also.
As the importance of social media to news organisations continues to grow, the position of social media editor has become more common. Ensuring that someone is fully dedicated to an operation's social media efforts is indeed a good way to ensure its effectiveness, especially during this transition period when many editorial staff are still unsure of how best to use these new tools. Otherwise, it is easy for journalists to neglect them during their busy schedules. But as Preston herself said on Twitter, in response to a tweet from Jay Rosen, ideally "Newsrooms need to integrate social media into editorial/production process. Everyone needs to be a SM Editor."