I’ve been observing a trend lately in the industry of more positions being labelled as cross-platform – i.e., that editor works on print, web and everything else – which is awesome. I mean, all editors should be thinking of the brand and readership in all ways they reach them and have the opportunity to create content in multiple ways.
However. Print timelines being what they are, and production schedules, we all know too well that it’s easy to forget about the website when you’re focused on finishing up a print issue. The trouble is, websites don’t work that way. You can’t just ignore them for seven to 10 days of the month and expect that they’ll be successful when you make up for it the rest of the time.
Which is the main reason that I strongly believe that all editorial staff should be encouraged to contribute to all platforms – but that at least one person (obviously small mags with tiny staffs can be forgiven for not reaching this goal) should have the website as their primary focus. A good website needs ownership, someone who is knowledgeable about and can advocate for the best web experience for web readers – which includes social media. It doesn’t mean this person should have to do all the work, but it does mean they should have the experience and power to make decisions and recommendations on what happens with digital properties.
For instance, I really like this quote from Anjali Mullany, social media editor at Fast Company:
The most valuable thing that social media editors [and] community managers bring to their newsrooms is not all the great tricks that they have up their sleeve when it comes to using new technology, although that’s really important.
I think what they bring is they solve problems. They solve problems of the digital age.
They figure out how am I going to bridge the gap between what you want and all the demands you have on your time. I think social media can totally help with that but you have to be really thoughtful about it.
Wherever I’ve been able to make any change or bridge that gap, a lot of it has come from trying really hard to understand what people’s workflows are, what demands are already on their time and what they’re trying to achieve and then trying to make what I do fit that.
Beyond that, making sure that you are using all these interesting platforms and trying to think creatively about them and using them in your own reporting and being an example of how to use those tools is really important too.