New York Times appoints a “social media editor”

How’s this for a dream job? America’s paper of record has reassigned one of its editors to be the in-house expert on Facebook and Twitter.

You can read up on Jennifer Preston’s background  in this morning’s entertainingly cruel Gawker post. More important is that the New York Times as an organization takes social networks seriously as a work tool. A leaked internal email describes Preston’s role:

Jennifer is our first social media editor. What’s that? It’s someone who concentrates full-time on expanding the use of social media networks and publishing platforms to improve New York Times journalism and deliver it to readers.

@NYT_JenPreston has already taken early feedback: She unprotected her Twitter updates this morning and is now trolling for input on her job. I’m sure 80 percent of that feedback will consist of “you’re an idiot” and “The New York Times will be dead in ____ days/months/years.” Hang in there, Jen. They did this to David Pogue, too.

There’s a bigger story here: I’m sure a thousand social media consultants are wailing in pain now that the Gray Lady has drafted an internal journalist instead of an external expert. But America’s paper of record has taken their advice, and has made it acceptable for all other newspapers to assign a full or part-time social media expert.
(Disclosure: Paul Boutin is a freelance writer for the New York Times.)

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