Jennifer Preston, the New York Times’ first social media editor, will become vice president for journalism at the Knight Foundation. Preston also helped launch the Times’ “Watching” feature, which Justin Ellis wrote about for Nieman recently.
Other Knight moves accompany the Preston hire and are part of a “reorganization designed to boost Knight Foundation’s ability to help accelerate digital innovation at news organizations and journalism schools, while accelerating the pace of experimentation that drives that innovation,” a release, below, says.
MIAMI – Oct. 6, 2014 – Jennifer Preston, an award-winning New York Times journalist and digital innovator, will join the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation as vice president for journalism beginning Oct. 20, 2014.
The move completes a reorganization designed to boost Knight Foundation’s ability to help accelerate digital innovation at news organizations and journalism schools, while accelerating the pace of experimentation that drives that innovation. Recently, John Bracken was promoted to vice president/media innovation with a mandate to increase the speed of media innovation funding.
Preston brings more than 30 years of newsroom and business-side experience to the position, including senior editorial and management roles at The Times. Since 2009, when she was named the newsroom’s first social media editor, she has helped pioneer the use of social media for reporting, storytelling, engagement and real-time publishing. Most recently, she helped launch a homepage news curation feature for nytimes.com called Watching. She has taught digital media at City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism and Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.
“Jennifer is the ideal person to help newsrooms embrace innovation because she believes in the change and has helped make it happen,” said Alberto Ibargüen, president of Knight Foundation. “She understands the realities but she also has a vision of what’s possible and how to get there. She’ll lead Knight’s efforts to help newspaper, TV, radio and Internet newsrooms bring media innovation into their mainstream.”
Commenting on Knight’s role as a principal funder of journalism training in the United States, Ibargüen added, “Jennifer is a collaborative, natural-born teacher who will help journalism schools train a new generation of digital natives to report the news. In the process, they will help evolve the skills necessary to report the news and engage the public. We’re still in a time of creative disruption but Jennifer is unflappable.”
“I am thrilled about joining Knight Foundation,” Preston said. “It is an extraordinary opportunity to help drive digital innovation at news organizations, big and small, startups and traditional brands. I am also excited about joining Knight’s global community of digital journalism innovators whose ideas have been changing how we practice and produce quality journalism for years.”
Preston’s team at Knight Foundation includes Director/Journalism Shazna Nessa, a former Associated Press deputy managing editor and a recent John S. Knight journalism fellow at Stanford University, and Program Officer/Journalism Marie Gilot.
Bracken’s team includes Director/Media Innovation Chris Barr, who manages the Knight Prototype Fund, which has become an important part of Knight strategy as it allows for the rapid testing and iteration of ideas, Program Associate Lucas Hernandez, and Executive Assistant Hallie Atkins.
The organizational shifts come as Michael Maness steps down as vice president/journalism and media innovation after more than three years at Knight to become the first innovator-in-residence for the Digital Initiative at the Harvard Business School. He will continue to consult for Knight Foundation.