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Sun - 21.01.2018

Social media at The New York Times: aiming to be different and meaningful

Social media at The New York Times: aiming to be different and meaningful

"Be strategic, be different, and strive for meaningful interactions," advised Liz Heron, social media editor at The New York Times, speaking about social media at news:rewired in London on Friday.

The social media world is changing fast and 2011 brought social media into the mainstream, Heron stressed. "In early 2010 we in the social media team were evangelisers, by 2011 we were highly in demand," she said. The team has set up social media trainings, put together guidelines and experimented as much as possible with the paper's flagship accounts, she added.

There are more than 400 New York Times journalists on Twitter and more than 50 now use Facebook's subscribe feature. "Once a journalist is a sophisticated user of social media it becomes part of their job and they can use it to save time," she stressed - it doesn't have to be seen as an additional task.

The upcoming US presidential elections and ongoing preparations are providing an exciting social media challenge for news organisations. There are plenty of journalists live-tweeting debates and primaries, so to stand out among the cacophony of voices, Heron and her team are keen to strive to "empower our readers to have truly authentic interaction with newsmakers."

One of the ways in which the paper does this is by inviting readers to contribute to its live reporting via the hashtag #asknyt. Readers can tweet questions or statements made by politicians to be factchecked. The New York Times has also revamped its live-blog template, she said, and it's now "more of a second screen for social media."

Twitter has such an impact, the paper believes, that journalists are starting to think about possible hashtags when choosing titles. The 'iEconomy' series was thus named because of its hashtag potential, Heron said. "We believe that a great hashtag can significantly broaden the reach of journalism," Heron said. As well as upping traffic, Twitter helps crowdsourcing efforts.

The NYT is using both Facebook and Google+ to give the audience direct access to the correspondents covering the elections, Heron said. The paper operates live chats on Facebook and even video hangouts on Google+, and through these "we can find out as much about them as they do about us."

For each platform it is key to identify its unique strengths and focus on those, Heron advised. "Google+ flummoxed us at first," she explained, but then the paper decided to concentrate on its potential for deep conversation and the video hangouts, which she described as "revolutionary."

Facebook Subscribe gives journalists the chance to use their personal profiles professionally and has increased the potential for them to interact with readers directly. Heron specifically encourages foreign correspondents and the 'How you live' desk to use it, she said. A query on her own Facebook page about students and depression resulted in 500 high-quality comments on the subject, she said. Now, the main Facebook page, which doesn't really have a human voice, is used more as a curation hub for these other Facebook presences.



Emma Goodman


2012-02-06 13:06

The World Editors Forum is the organization within the World Association of Newspapers devoted to newspaper editors worldwide. The Editors Weblog (www.editorsweblog.org), launched in January 2004, is a WEF initiative designed to facilitate the diffusion of information relevant to newspapers and their editors.

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