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Will the social media editor job be a transitional role?

By Hamish Mackay

October 31, 2011 | 2 min read

The role of the social media editor has come under the microscope in the US at a seminar examining whether it is destined to become a permanent position at news outlets, or a transitional role.

US website,, reporting from a panel discussing social media best practices at the Journalism Interactive conference, said: “The New York Times’ co-social media editor, Liz Heron, said that her own position probably falls on the side of transitional.”

Heron told the conference: “I think my job will probably not exist in five years.

“But that’s not because social media will die out or fade.

“Quite the opposite. We’re in a moment of disruption right now — social media may be slowly transforming some formerly standard newsroom practices (and formerly standard newsroom assumptions), but, for all their impact, they’re not universal.

“Twitter and Facebook and social news in general are still things that need to be learned — and, within the newsroom, advocated for.”

Heron’s co-panelist, NBC’s Jim Long, commented: “In a few years, having a social media editor will make as much sense as having a telephone consultant.

“As social media become more diffusive, their impact will be, as well. Social media, and innovation in their use, will become more of a team effort.“

And so, Heron concluded: “It’ll be less necessary to have one person in charge.”


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