What The Washington Post is looking for in a mobile engagement producer

A job listing popped up on Poynter.org a few weeks ago: Mobile engagement producer at the Washington Post.

It caught my eye for a few reasons. First, it was a newsroom job opening, which is always good to see; second it was for a mobile-dedicated position; and third, I wanted to know: What exactly does a mobile “engagement”  producer do?

I contacted Post Mobile Editor Anjuman Ali to ask. She responded in this edited e-mail interview.

Damon Kiesow: Can you describe the position and what an ideal candidate might be – skills and experience?

Anjuman Ali: The mobile engagement producer will manage m.washingtonpost.com and the Post’s iPhone and iPad apps in the evenings and one weekend day. The ideal candidate will have excellent news judgment, be a multi-tasker and be comfortable with new technologies. The producer will curate the sites and package and present our content in a way that attracts mobile readers and takes advantage of how readers use their devices.

We would prefer candidates who have worked in newsrooms and have a strong interest in and affinity for breaking and hard news. A high comfort level with content management systems and mobile devices is a must.

What prompted the hire?

Ali: This is a newly created position. As you know, by 2013, mobile Web usage is expected to exceed desktop PC usage. And by late 2011, smart phones will be more popular than “dumb” phones, which means that apps will continue to grow in popularity.

m.washingtonpost.com is seeing a growth in unique visitors. Our iPad app also has been well received by readers. By adding this job, we want to position our newsroom to meet the needs of our growing numbers of mobile readers. And we want to strengthen the editorially-curated news experience that readers expect from the Post’s mobile sites.

What other staff/positions does the Post have that are focused on mobile?

Ali: The newsroom director for strategy has a mobile focus. I oversee our mobile efforts. An editor manages m.washingtpost.com, and another manages the iPad app.

Do you see many other papers hiring mobile editors and producers?

The Post is committed to the mobile platform, as are other news organizations. Hiring mobile editors/producers is an industry-wide trend, and as the ranks of mobile readers for news grows, I anticipate this trend to continue.

How are you approaching your content programming for mobile? Is a distinctively different approach needed from the Web and from mobile Web to app to tablet?

Ali: We tailor our content to how mobile readers consume news and to the device. M.washingtonpost.com is not a copy of washingtonpost.com. Story choices, elements and placement differ because mobile readers consume news differently and because of the variety of devices. We’ve kept navigation simple and content easily accessible on both our mobile site and the iPhone app. Similarly, we designed our iPad app such that our content, specially our multimedia, would shine on a device that displays it brilliantly.

For reference, here is the original job listing:

The mobile team on The Washington Post’s Universal News Desk is looking for a producer who can help boost engagement with our mobile content. The mobile engagement producer will be responsible for working with content creators to make sure article pages have critical elements, that the content is easy to read and find on mobile, that feeds are functioning properly and that the right stories, blogs and twitter feeds are promoted. The ideal candidate will be able to help the mobile team analyze traffic data and mobile trends, be an effective problem solver and be comfortable with new technologies. The web producer also must be able to communicate and work well with our tech team.

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