New York Times to Hire ‘Social Media Platforms First’ Journalists as Line with Traditional Media Blurs

New York Times to Hire ‘Social Media Platforms First’ Journalists as Line with Traditional Media Blurs

The increasingly hard to dispute argument that social media platforms are as much publishers as ‘social’ networks. While Facebook has seen a drop in the number of ‘status’ posts from users over the past couple of years, it has seen a huge surge in the amount of content being consumed via its platform. A study by Hubspot, who make inbound marketing and sales software, shows that a similar trend can be seen across the most popular social media platforms. Facebook has saw a 57% increase in content consumption, Twitter 25% and LinkedIn 21%.

Perhaps the most interesting finding of the study was the statistic that the response of a survey was that 76% of respondents said that they caught up on new by clicking on interesting articles and videos in their Facebook feed.

That compared to 26% in 2014. 41% did the same thing through Twitter and 36% on LinkedIn. Only 55% said they went directly to a publication’s website, 21% less than those using Facebook.

Against this backdrop it should perhaps come as no surprise that The New York Times has announced a new programme through which it will hire 3 journalists for a one-year residency focused on the creation of ‘social first’ content. The content written by these journalists will be published via the media’s pages on social media platforms before the newspaper’s proprietary website, apps and print editions.

The journalists, who will number at least 3, will work for The New York Times’ travel section. Monica Drake, the publication’s travel editor commented that programme would:

“make sure that when we’re covering the world for travel that we don’t miss the people in it.”

The move comes against a backdrop of debate around what an appropriate relationship is for journalists with social media. Also over in the USA, an ESPN journalist was recently fired for criticising President Trump via a Twitter post from a personal account.

Many traditional publishers, including the New York Times, have now issued guidelines for journalists on their use of social media platforms. An editor commented:

“..we need to be mindful that social media platforms are publishing platforms, to be treated with the same standards and conduct as our own.”

In terms of the style of content that the ‘social first’ journalism programme will follow, Drake commented that the stories generated will also subsequently be published on the publication’s main website. The will be “very image heavy” but still incorporate a “more traditional sculpted narrative” than would be typical for social media.

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