The Associated Press (AP) has promoted Lauren McCullough to manager of Social Networks and News Engagement. The 27-year-old will head the Social Network Center, one of four components to the new AP headquarters in New York dubbed the AP Nerve Center.
The post will entail finding story leads and newsgathering using social networks, while also working to promote the AP presence on social media sites. McCullough will also feed back news of trending topics on social networks to news editors and work on developing a set of standards for agency journalists when using social media.
McCullough joined the AP in 2006 as an online editor and has been a leader in the news service’s other recent social media efforts. This past summer, the agency partnered with Yahoo in an experiment to cover Sonia Sotomayor’s nomination to the Supreme Court. Last month, the AP partnered with 10 other international news agencies on The Climate Pool, a social news collaboration covering the United Nations’ climate conference in Copenhagen. In 2007, she was involved in the AP’s efforts with the citizen journalism site NowPublic.com.
The AP has notoriously struggled with various aspects of social media in the past. Roughly six months ago, there was the problem with a policy involving its employees and their personal social networking profiles, which instigated involvement from the News Media Guild. About 18 months ago, there was the whole debacle of the AP charging bloggers for quoting its material, which elicited heavy backlash across the web.
Still, the agency has been making attempts to harness the potential of new media and find its place in that realm. The Sotomayor experiment was particularly successful, but did raise further questions for the AP in regards to social media coverage of news events.
“For example, how close do you have to be to an event you are blogging about (…) We need to know if there was something special about that event [the Sotomayor hearing] or its timing that made it successful,” said Kathleen Carroll, AP executive editor.
Managing Editor Lou Ferrara said of McCullough, “Lauren brings experience in social networking across formats that will enable the AP to grow in this new frontier of journalism. She understands the value of newsgathering within the social networks, as well as the need to have a voice within them.”
It will be interesting to watch the developments that this new position brings to the organization and the trickle-down effects to the rest of the online news media.
SOURCE: “Lauren McCullough named to lead AP social networking efforts,” LA Times, 01/07/10
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