Reuters is stepping up its social media efforts: the news agency named Anthony De Rosa as its new social media editor yesterday. De Rosa is currently a product manager and technologist at Reuters. Poynter published the memo announcing De Rosa's appointment.
As a social media editor, De Rosa's role will consist of integrating social networks, where news often breaks first, into Reuters platforms. He will assist Reuters journalists and editors "use social media tools to monitor news, report news, and find leads," according to the memo. De Rosa has obvious credentials to take up such a role: the New York Times called him "the undisputed King of Tumblr", referring to his top-ranking Tumblr blog, and according to NBC New York he is one of the top 20 people to follow on Twitter.
De Rosa's appointment is in line with latest developments at news organisations, as more and more of them are seeing social media as offering valuable tools for journalists, in addition to having huge potential as a traffic driver. Moreover, latest reports show that social networks are having an ever more integral role in their users' lives, which would make an expansion to the social media field a tempting option for any news outlet.
TechCrunch published yesterday two stories that attest to the growth the two most important social networks, Facebook and Twitter, are seeing in user numbers and societal importance. Speaking at a special event at Facebook's headquarters, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said, as TechCrunch reported, that as a typical user shares more and more on Facebook as they keep using it, sharing on Facebook is growing at an exponential rate. Currently, Facebook users are sharing 4 billion status updates, images etc every day. If news organisations were able to tap effectively into that sharing frenzy, the consequences would be immense.
The same day, Twitter received an unprecedented boost to its image when the White House hosted a Q&A session with the US President Barack Obama that allowed citizens to send questions to the president via Twitter. As TechCrunch's MG Siegler noted, Twitter has come a long way: "If you had said four years ago that a Twitter event with the President would come across as dignified, everyone would have laughed." Yet, yesterday's event was widely considered a success - most probably also from the point of view of Twitter's marketing team.
To get an idea of what kind of coverage could potentially be reached through social media, according to The Economist infograph more than 50 percent of Internet users use social networks in more than half of the 27 EU countries.
The role of social media editor has appeared in several news organisation, and it is one of the steps that news outlets are taking to integrate the use of social media into their operations. At the BBC's Social Media Summit in May, however, it was argued that instead of having a dedicated person in charge of a newsroom's social media efforts, the whole newsroom needed to go through a cultural change. But before that can happen, a dedicated social media editor can be a valuable asset in helping other members of the news outlet make the change.
Reuters said that under De Rosa's direction, "social media will extend our brand, bring more people to Reuters.com, and make Reuters the most recognizable name in news". It is likely that in order to reach those aims, Reuters is taking steps in the right direction as apt use of social media can play an important role in achieving such results.