You can read all about the New York Times new social media editor nearly everywhere today. Or, you can just follow Jennifer Preston on Twitter and hear from her directly. Of course, there's the original memo announcing her new role, the CJR article telling us, um... not much, and Mike Volpe's on target criticism of her hiring, pointing out that a single person can't do it all, that social media needs to extend through out an organization. Though, to be fair, when I read the original memo I felt that her hiring was as much an internal educational move as an external outreach play.
All that being said, if all Preston takes away from this job is a few ideas from the peanut gallery like creating standardized hashtags for breaking news, then I'd call this a failed experiment.
Isn't the Times already a pretty good community? They have content, people who come to read the content and the ability for people to comment on that content. In fact, they have multiple communities, not just the readers but also the various communities they cover. Shouldn't the Times be working to galvenize those communities and strengthen them, rather than simply trying to Tweet more?
The Times, and other newspapers, should start inviting their readers to be editors. Their model should be Facebook, letting people interact and use the information as the basis of that interaction. I touched on this concept back in 2005, but I think it's much more important now.
The social media world has taught us that people follow people, but that organizations such as the New York Times and its more localized sibling the Boston Globe command trust and respect from their readers. They need to build on that, but also let the people have a say.
And not just on Twitter.