Newspapers start to name social media editors

I read an article in the Guardian that claims that the New York Times has named its first social media editor. When I first read the title I wondered what the job would actually entail. The article quotes a memo from Jonathan Landman, which describes her role in a practical sense as:

“Working closely with editors, reporters, bloggers and others to use social tools to find sources, track trends, and break news as well as to gather it. She will help us get comfortable with the techniques, share best practices and guide us on how to more effectively engage a larger share of the audience on sites like Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, Flickr, Digg, and beyond.”

I have to tip my cap to the New York Times as I think this is a step forward. However, I think hiring one person to do this maybe a slight misjudgment. If it only has one person, I hope that person is then going to train the other writers on how to use social media properly. Let’s not get too bogged down on the publication because it hired one person though because if it is addressing social media properly and engaging in conversation – I think this still has to be seen as a positive step.

The real question though is is this a one off or are we seeing the start of a new journalist trend towards hiring more social media specialists in the traditional media?