New York Times Elimination of Social Media Editor Position Should be Lesson for us All

I was forwarded this article on Poynter a week or so ago by my colleague, Beth Phillips: “Why the New York Times Eliminated its Social Media Editor Position.” The headline definitely caught my attention. I was curious. Why were they eliminating something I had been working for a couple years to make a permanent editor position in my class (which to this day still has not panned out – but that’s a different story altogether)?

As I read the piece though, I bought in more and more to the idea that the position shouldn’t exist. The job of social media should be a duty shared by all staff, not just one or a select handful. You should work to get as much reach as you can by using different individuals, and you need to be personal. I get thinking about the journalism related Twitter and Facebook accounts I follow. The ones I pay closest attention to are the personal ones. I follow closely individual sports columnists and Iowa Hawkeye beat reporters, I pay much less attention to the ‘official’ publication accounts like The Des Moines Register and St. Louis Post-Dispatch as they much less personal.

Not sure how we’re going to work it yet, that’s a job for over break to think about, but I know things are going to change. It will be important to have someone in the room to serve as a trainer and point person on social media, but they shouldn’t be the lone driving force in using social media to promote the student media.

Aaron Manfull

Aaron is in his 26th year of advising student media. He is currently the Director of Student Media at Francis Howell North High School in St. Charles, Missouri. He is the Journalism Education Association Digital Media Chair and co-Director of Media Now. He is the 2023 JEA Teacher Inspiration Award Winner and is a former Dow Jones News Fund National Journalism Teacher of the Year. He is one of the authors of the textbook "Student Journalism and Media Literacy." You can find him on X and Instagram @manfull. He's a proud father. A transplanted Iowan. And an avid Hawkeye Fan.

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3 thoughts on “New York Times Elimination of Social Media Editor Position Should be Lesson for us All

  • December 22, 2010 at 1:09 pm

    This was a timely post . . . I noticed today that I signed up for Twitter in November 2008, and posted once more in November 2009. I just invited my entire staff to my account so we can all start using Twitter for outreach. I, too, have been unsuccessful establishing a social media editor position.

  • January 18, 2011 at 1:47 pm

    We just created a social media director/editor position. I’m having 2 sophomores share it. They started our tumblr page. They will be responsible for monitoring FB and Twitter; however, everyone does have to share in the responsibility of posting. For example, sports reporters need to tweet games; not the social media director. I think it’s important to assign a student to this task to help monitor all the comments and to guide it in the right direction.

  • January 18, 2011 at 1:48 pm

    And…I forgot to ask…why is everyone having a hard time filling this position, it seems like something the kids would want to do.

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