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July 30, 2010, 5 p.m.

Luckie them: meet WaPo’s new National Innovations Editor

Big news today, both for The Washington Post and for its newest hire: the multimedia journalist Mark S. Luckie. [Go ahead, get it out of your system: Insert your favorite “Luckie” pun — “the WaPo gets Luckie,” “WaPo’s Luckie charms,” etc. — here.] On August 23, Luckie — the former multimedia producer for California Watch, the current proprietor of the 10,000 Words blog and Twitter feed, and, let’s not forget, the possessor of one of the most delightful profile pics on the Internet — will join the Post’s newsroom as its National Innovations Editor.

Journalists, if you’re looking for evidence of the professional power of the personal brand, this is it. Luckie embodies the kind of learn-it-yourself/do-it-yourself ethos that is increasingly common — and even essential — in digital journalism: gather the tools you need, build a community, follow your own interests and passions and quirks. And if you’re (sorry!) Luckie: good things will come. As the soon-to-be-WaPoer tweeted of today’s news: “So happy right now I can barely eat my French toast : D”

I chatted with Luckie this afternoon; though many of the specifics of his role are still TK, he clarified a bit of what his Important-Sounding New Title will actually entail: experimenting with tools that will allow for better production on the Post website; fostering conversations and online engagement among readers; devising new methods of crowdsourcing. Pretty much your basic “innovations editor” job description — with the important caveat, Luckie notes, that the job will have a particular focus on “finding out what works for the Post.”

In other words: his role won’t be simply to “find out what’s cool and what’s hot,” Luckie says, but to “actually develop a strategy that will help not only the Post, but also the readers. Which is a big thing that I care about.” To that end, experimentation will be key, he says — but experimentation that’s respectful of the Post’s readership. “I don’t want to say, ‘Oh, we should be doing this’ if it’s not something that would work for the Post audience.”

But, that said, Luckie will look to other companies — non-journalism outfits like HBO and even NASA, he says — for ideas that he can steal for the Post. “I think the Post recognizes, and is moving toward, more digital integration — not just having a website, but having a destination. And an interactive destination.”

And in terms of that other interactive destination — the 10,000 Words blog — will Luckie be maintaining it once he’s started his new, uh, post?

“Yes!” he says. “I’m going to keep it going. I can’t not blog. I was in the museum the other day — I was just there to relax — and I was like, ‘This would make a great blog post.’ So that was a signal to me that, yes, I need to keep the blog going.”

POSTED     July 30, 2010, 5 p.m.
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