Journalism’s ever-changing technological world acknowledged with new social media editor

Mar 22 2013 - 10:16pm

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Chandra Johnson
Chandra Johnson

The journalism industry is constantly evolving. And this has changed everything from how we cover the news to how we engage with our audience.

We have also changed how we organize staff and the industry language we use.

This is most evident in job descriptions that many news organizations now use. Positions such as "digital news developer," "multi-media specialist" and "Audience Engagement Manager" didn't exist just a few years ago.

Now they are common.

To me, the important thing is not what we call a position, but rather what duties are performed.

At the Standard-Examiner, we've decided to blend the old with the new when it comes to titles. That's why a new position that deals with social media is simply titled Social Media Editor.

Filling this new position is the energetic Chandra Johnson, who started this week..

Chandra is a graduate of the University of Montana and comes to us from Taos, N.M. She has a broad background that began with traditional journalism. She will be the voice of the Standard-Examiner in the ever-expanding world of social media.

Part journalist, part editor, part marketing director, part promoter, Chandra will do it all.

We are excited to have her on board.

In keeping with the theme of her position, here is a digital Q&A I had with her:

What prompted you to choose journalism as a career?

"I've wanted to work for newspapers since I was knee-high to a grasshopper. My fourth-grade teacher pulled me aside and told me I should be a journalist because I asked him too many questions and that was the first time I think it was solidified in my mind. To me, this is the best job in the world: At best, you get to document history. At worst, you get paid to talk to people all day and learn something new. This job surprises you in so many ways that you can't get bored. I love that."

How important is the role of social media in journalism today?

"Social media is crucial to modern journalism because it gives us a way to reach out to our audience as never before. We're literally getting to our readers where they live: Social media sites and online. We're evolving to meet our audience and it's very exciting."

What has social media changed about how journalists do their jobs?

"I think social media has intensified the sense of urgency journalists already face in a fast-paced, deadline-driven job. These days, if it's not on Twitter, it's like it didn't happen. Being late to the party is more embarrassing than ever, because people move on more quickly now. Also, I think that because social media is accessible on many devices, the public now expects journalism to also be mobile. We have to be faster, yes, but it's also a complete mindset change from, 'I'd better get back to the office' to 'I'd better get this up right now.' As a former reporter and Web editor, I also understand that it's key for journalists to walk the line between urgency and accuracy."

What is your favorite story that you have done, and did social media play a part?

"My favorite story I wrote at my previous job was for our outdoors section. It was about a young man who started up a private honey business by making deals with landowners across three counties to place his hives on their land. I got to spend an entire day driving around with him, visiting the hives and learning about how he created different kinds of honey based on where his bees were and what plants were around. The story and accompanying multimedia went up on our Facebook page and he experienced a major boost in business. Before I left Taos, I bought a case of the honey to take with me. It doesn't get better than that."

What are some of your hobbies or interests outside of journalism?

"In my spare time I love to write and make pottery.

"I also love the outdoors, especially hiking, camping and snowshoeing. My summer plans include trying my hand at rock climbing and learning to kayak. I've never lived near a large body of water, so I'm excited to try something new."

When she gets settled in her job, Chandra will have professional Twitter and Facebook accounts. You can reach her now by email at cjohnson@standard.net.

Andy Howell is executive editor. He can be reached at ahowell@standard.net.

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