Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Journalism and Social Media

In my current job, I not only write for our print and online publications, I oversee the social media aspects of what my team is doing. I'm also one of the founders of an ad hoc group at my company of reporters/editors that have Web 2.0/social media duties. We formed the group to offer tips to newbies and help create guidelines for the company.

So it was with great interest that I read on the Mashable blog that the New York Times has hired a Social Media Editor. Jennifer Preston, previously editor of the Times' Regional Section, has been charged with... well I'm not exactly sure. You can read the memo, which is on the Nieman Journalism Lab web site, here.

It seems that publications and media outlets are hiring people to oversee their social media efforts and the titles -- and duties -- vary widely. My official title is Online Managing Editor-Business Aviation. Other titles I've seen are community manager; social media manager (Social Media Explorer has a great post on that position here); and my colleague Shirley Brady over at BusinessWeek is the magazine's first community editor.

What I see here is opportunity. My company told us three and a half years ago that digital is our future. So I saw my opportunity to get those skills and leverage that expertise. As companies continue to mull their new media options, those that have these skills are putting themselves in a position that makes them less likely (but not immune) to layoffs/buyouts.

I was happy to see that this year's NABJ Annual Conference has plenty of workshops and seminars for people to beef up their skills. I encourage you to attend my workshop -- Becoming a Multimedia Journalist -- at this year's conference. I have digital media guru Mario Armstrong and Washington Post journalist Theola Labbe-DeBose talking about how new media has changed their game and tips and tools of the trade.

I'm heartened by the regional conferences held in Philadelphia and New York that are focusing on this, along with the efforts of the Media Institute. But NABJ needs to do more. There needs to be more training and more mentoring for those who want to consider this as a career. Multimedia journalism has become a passion for me and will be a major focus if I am elected as Region II Director for the NABJ board.

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