Rise of the social media directors

By Steve Outing

As far as I’m concerned, every news organization should have a staff member with the title of Director of Social Media (or some variation of that). If you run a news organization and you’re not devoting resources and brainpower to user generated content, social networking, crowd sourcing, etc., then you’re missing what the Internet is all about and how to best leverage it.

I was pleased to note in an e-mail the other day that Kurt Greenbaum of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch has that title, which is sadly still an unusual job position. He explained how he came to be the newspaper’s Director of Social Media:

My story goes like this: I’ve been online news director at the Post-Dispatch for five years. Two years ago, when our editor took his job, I told him that I thought he would eventually not need someone called ‘online news director’ if we did the right things. Those things included distributing more online responsibility to other editors in the newsroom. Making the business editor responsible for business content — all of it! Integrating online into the newsroom … really integrating it!

“This past summer, I had a career chat with our editor and talked about the fact that reader-generated content and interactivity was really my passion in this medium. If the chance arose, I told him, I would relish the chance to dig into that area.

“As you probably know, the P-D had a buyout at the end of the summer. We lost 39 in the newsroom, necessitating a reorg. Which led to me getting this new position. Right now, I’m working on a project to create hyper-communities (ala Northwestvoice.com) in our St. Charles County area. I have a Knight Foundation grant proposal due in seven days around that project. And I’m working on other things. Like I’ve spent the day building a Facebook page for STLtoday … and (a) Twitter idea.”

Author: Steve Outing Steve Outing is a Boulder, Colorado-based media futurist, digital-news innovator, consultant, journalist, and educator. ... Need assistance with media-company future strategy? Get in touch with Steve!