January 6, 2015

New York Times digital deputy editor Amy O’Leary will be the new editorial director for Upworthy, the viral news curator announced Tuesday.

In her new position, O’Leary will be the top editorial staffer, responsible for overseeing the creation and dissemination of Upworthy’s brand of shareable content. She replaces founding editorial director Sara Critchfield, who left in 2014 to work as a media strategist and consultant. O’Leary will report to Upworthy co-founder Peter Koechley.

In a blog post accompanying the announcement, O’Leary said she’s leaving The New York Times because of Upworthy’s potential to harness the power of social media to shed light on important stories:

Today, I don’t think even the most talented journalist can be content to say that important stories are just ones people should read or view. Today we have to go farther. We have to be willing to get out there, into the street fight for human attention that is the Internet, and be willing to deploy our strengths as storytellers to make sure the most impactful ideas reach real people, where they’re at.

How to do that? The best way I know how to is to merge narrative skills with deep analytics to craft impactful stories that massive numbers of people want to read and view and share. And Upworthy has been the absolute leader in cracking that code.

O’Leary comes to Upworthy with a proven ability to “make important stuff compelling,” Upworthy cofounders Eli Pariser and Koechley said in their announcement.

Amy is an amazing multimedia storyteller, learning the trade as a producer for This American Life, creating wonderful stories for RadioLab, and joining the New York Times as a multimedia editor who can think as fluently in text and audio as she can in data and mockups and wireframes.

O’Leary was appointed to her current role as digital deputy editor for international news late last year. Before that, she held roles as a deputy editor for digital operations, multimedia producer, online news editor and reporter. She was also one of the authors of The Times’ much-publicized innovation report, which assessed the strengths and weaknesses of the paper’s digital efforts.

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Benjamin Mullin is the managing editor of Poynter.org. He previously reported for Poynter as a staff writer, Google Journalism Fellow and Naughton Fellow, covering journalism…
Benjamin Mullin

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