July 28, 2016

Vox Media announced on Thursday that Melissa Bell will be appointed to the recreated job of publisher.

Bell, who is a member of Poynter’s National Advisory Board, will be responsible for helping “develop the company’s brands and identify opportunities to build its audience on its sites and across different platforms, such as Snapchat and Facebook.” She was previously the company’s vice president of growth and analytics and the founder of Vox.com

It’s unusual, but not unheard of, for a digital media company to have a publisher. The job title has long been associated with the top executives at newspapers, responsible for making business decisions.

BuzzFeed also has a publisher, however. Dao Nguyen, who was previously the digital media company’s vice president of growth and data, was named publisher in 2014, a title that comes with many of the same responsibilities that Bell’s does.

Other news organizations — notably ones with legacy roots — have recently de-emphasized the publisher’s job. Time Inc cut the title in its recent ad sales reorganization, and Tronc earlier this year consolidated the role of publisher and editor in chief across its portfolio of newspapers.

In an interview with The New York Times, Bell said she viewed her role as helping editors at the company’s various verticals shape “their own brand voice.”

“We are a growing company that is figuring out how to structure ourselves,” Ms. Bell said. “We are no longer a small start-up but we really, really want to keep that scrappy spirit alive, and we’re trying to figure out how to shepherd that as we grow.”

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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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