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Oct. 28, 2011, 11 a.m.

Heron: “I think my job will probably not exist in five years.”

Why the social media editor job may be a transitional one.

Is the most up-and-coming job in journalism — the social media editor — a permanent position at news outlets, or a transitional role?

At a panel discussing social media best practices at the Journalism Interactive conference this morning, The New York Times’ co-social media editor, Liz Heron, said that her own position probably falls on the side of transitional. “I think my job will probably not exist in five years,” she said.

But! That’s “not because social media will die out or fade,” Heron noted. Quite the opposite. We’re in a moment of disruption right now — social media may be slowly transforming some formerly standard newsroom practices (and formerly standard newsroom assumptions), but, for all their impact, they’re not universal. Twitter and Facebook and social news in general are still things that need to be learned — and, within the newsroom, advocated for.

That won’t be the case for much longer, Heron suggested. (As Heron’s co-panelist, NBC’s Jim Long, put it: In a few years, having a social media editor will make as much sense as having a telephone consultant.) As social media become more diffusive, their impact will be, as well. Social media, and innovation in their use, will become more of a team effort. And so, Heron said, “it’ll be less necessary to have one person in charge.”

Image by Widjaya Ivan used under a Creative Commons license.

POSTED     Oct. 28, 2011, 11 a.m.
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