Has Social Media Become Part of the Media Establishment?

HonestReporting's social media editor, Alex Margolin, contributes occasional posts on social media issues. He oversees HonestReporting on Facebook.

At the end of 2009, many media prognosticators predicted that 2010 would be the year social media would finally lose its outsider status and become part of “The Media” at large.

Did it happen? Well, people still refer to social media as something separate from the rest of media, but the signs indicate that the predictions weren't far from reality.

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Look at the New York Times as a case-in-point. The paper of record began 2010 having recently hired a social media editor, Jennifer Preston, to serve as an advocate for social media among the Time’s staff and the public.

By the end of the year, the Times eliminated the position, saying social media was a shared responsibility among all staff. Preston, the soon-to-be former social media editor, said she believes everyone at the paper must work together to create more engagement with the public.

“Social media can’t belong to one person; it needs to be part of everyone’s job,” Preston said. “It has to be integrated into the existing editorial process and production process. I’m convinced that’s the only way we’re going to crack the engagement nut.”

By eliminating the position, the paper essentially acknowledges that there is no longer a need to push social media as a separate entity from its primary output, that social media channels have become part and parcel of delivering the timely news at the New York Times.

That may not be the full integration people predicted a year ago, but it’s a big sign that the integration is well underway. Maybe by the end of 2011, there will be one entity known as "the media" and it will refer to the New York Times and Facebook as valuable sources of information.

Previously in Alex's series: 2 Lessons from Hamas’s Facebook Fail

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