Ahhh, Buzzfeed. It’s my go-to site to see someone else’s collection of photos of cats that look like Amanda Bynes.
Yesterday, Buzzfeed’s Rob Fishman, who may or may not be a cat person, wrote a post titled “The Social Media Editor is Dead,” where he looked for reasons why my job and the jobs of many others who share my title is past its prime and no longer relevant.
In it are absolute gems like this from people such as Danny Shea, who Fishman describes as a “longtime editor at HuffPost.”
“The stereotype of social media editors, Shea said, is to dole out advice consisting mostly of obvious things you’d find at a Social Media 101 class,” while simultaneously “shamelessly attempting to build their own personal brands.”
Longtime? Huffington Post launched in 2005.
Then, of course, Fishman had to mention Matthew Keys. OK, point taken. That guy definitely didn’t help our cause.
Now while I appreciate the need for a website to need page views, Fishman couldn’t be more wrong. The social media editor isn’t dead. If anything, the job is evolving and becoming more relevant. Here at the Chicago Tribune, the job of the social media department – yes, department – is to do so much more than direct eyes to our stories. We interact with our incredible readers, we create fun content, we fix customer service issues and we educate. Our editors look to us to find out what people are talking about and they take that advice into account when deciding what to put in the paper and online. I try to imagine the newspaper of 2013 functioning without a dedicated social media department, and I just can’t.
Speaking of, today our cross-town friends the Chicago Sun-Times dropped a bombshell on everyone by firing its entire photo staff. 28 full-time employees gone. The reason? Apparently we consume news differently now and multimedia/video is more important than photography. I can’t even tell you how ridiculous that is and sounds. The Sun-Times says it will hire freelancers and equip its reporters with cameras to take photos.
Really? That’s the big plan? That’s silly. Any reporter can take a photo with an iPhone, but that combination isn’t likely to make readers emotional. Same goes for social. Any reporter can tweet, but my job is so much more than tweeting. I wish I had a day to just sit around and tweet – that would be like a vacation.
Do I expect my job to be exactly the same five years from now? No, just as I never expected I’d ever be doing social media full time. While I go by social media editor, you could call me a social journalist or digital journalist. Call me an evolving journalist if you must. The point is I’m not going anywhere and neither are most social media editors. In fact, I expect more newspapers to hire for social media than fire. If you work for a news organization that doesn’t take social media seriously, I advise you get out. This is no fad, my friends.
Regardless of whether I agree with Fishman or with his tactics, he definitely started a passionate debate within my circles. But as you’ll see from the photo that accompanies this post, I’m alive. Johnny 5 alive. No disassemble.
If you’re interested in what I actually do, drop me a line sometime. You know how to find me.