While The New York Times recently eliminated its “social media editor,” The Wall Street Journal is keeping its “outreach editor,” and USA Today just created a similar position, reports Thomas Pardee.
Pardee writes that the different approaches to staffing reflect an uncertainty as to how best to handle new digital duties:
“All three are trying to answer the same questions facing newsrooms everywhere: Should social media belong to a designated editor, to the whole staff or both? Is a staff evangelist for social media ever finished with her work? And what happens when the next big thing bubbles up?”
All three papers are pursuing strategies that work for them right now. And, like the Times, which had Jennifer Preston leading their social media efforts until recently, they could all change course tomorrow if needed.
For an industry that still suffers from calcified organizational charts, and stale staff titles and roles, that flexibility may be as difficult a challenge as managing social media in the first place. But, that is one of the iterative lessons of the Web. It is less important to get the answer right the first time, and more important to keep trying until you find what works.