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How To Escape The Newsroom ‘Social Media Guru’ Pigeon Hole

As with many jobs that are either technical in nature, or have a somewhat narrow scope, being the newsroom’s primary social media educator can have a pigeon-holing effect on ones career.

Depending on how advanced the newsroom is when it comes to understanding the basics of how to utilize social media and online communities for their reporting, the process of changing their ways could be ongoing and end up taking years.

Once all is said and done, a few years have gone by and you’re less a reporter and more a social media manager.

For some people that’s a great situation. But for others, it can feel limiting and uncomfortable.

In an exit interview with Poynter, out-going Huffington Post Social News Editor, Mandy Jenkins, talked about steps one can take to get themselves out of that pigeon hole:

I think not limiting yourself to just being the social media person. It sometimes might mean you have to work even longer hours, but it’s really good to still know all those old journalism skills — good copy editing, having good news judgment, being able to write a news update that’s longer than 140 characters. And also just being more involved with news than just pushing things out and doing engagement.

She also talked about how she feels moving out of the social media pigeon hole and into something different:

It’s scary because social media has kind of become my identity, for better or worse, and I don’t really want to be pigeonholed into that kind of job forever. I have much loftier goals than social media. But it’s scary to get out of it, because that’s what people know me for being good at.

In journalism and media, the position of “Social Media Editor” or “Social Media Manager” can be limiting. It differs from the role of a social media manager or director in a corporate environment because of greater room to grow.

There could be wider implications if more people in social media roles at news organizations decide to take cues from Mandy’s decisions to move on, for the reasons she’s identified. Right now the position is stable.

But what happens in a year or two, when people start feeling like they need more responsibility, better pay and opportunity to advance? Then things could change significantly.

Photo credit: Flickr/xlibber

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