NYT‘s New Social Media Editor Sees Potential In Journos Using Twitter

The New York Times today announced (through Twitter and an internal memo to staffers) that Jennifer Preston would be taking over the newly created role of social media editor for the paper.

Though some critics have predicted that Preston will only be a Twitter cop for micro-blogging NYT reporters and editors, she told FishbowlNY that her job was actually going to be much more.

“I’ll be keeping everyone up to date with the rapid changes in this new medium,” Preston told us, noting that Twitter and other social media sites can be “an absolutely fabulous tool” for journalists to use. “My plan is to work closely with editors, reporters, bloggers and folks here across the newsroom to explore together how we can use these tools journalistically.”

A few hours after news broke of her appointment, Preston was introducing herself to the Twitter world. “Hi, I’m the NYT’s new social media editor…How should @nytimes be using Twitter?” she Tweeted using the handle NYT_JenPreston. “The first thing that I wanted to do on Twitter was to ask for ideas from Twitter users,” she explained.

Based on some of her retweets, Preston’s query has garnered plenty of attention already. Some of her 1,300+ followers (as of 4 p.m. today) have suggested that the Times use Twitter to create an “ask the editor” Tweet chat or originate breaking news hashtags.

“Maybe there is a way for us to come up with a way to share those ideas more broadly and have a real time conversation with people who care about extending journalism to the public through new publishing mediums like Twitter,” Preston said, hinting at what her job might entail in the near future.

Most of all, Preston is interested in the ways in which social media can help Times journalists find sources, break news and gather it. She pointed to television reporter Brian Stelter as one Times staffer who has used Twitter effectively, especially with his use of crowd sourcing.

And although Preston didn’t use Twitter much before taking on this new role, she brings extensive experience as a journalist to the newly created position. She has worked in the news business for 25 years as a reporter and editor, and teaches at Columbia University.

“I have been a beat reporter and I understand how tools like Twitter can help a beat reporter,” she said.

We hope Preston will help to extend the Times‘ use of Twitter and other social media, and we can’t wait to see what she will do.