The intriguing headline revelation comes from today’s summary of a conversation the New York Times vet had with Beth Andrix Monaghan (pictured), co-founder of Boston PR firm InkHouse.
Monaghan describes herself as a longtime personal fan of Roberts, having come to trust his voice-of-reason approach to the fury of today’s breaking news patterns. When she asked the recently appointed Mashable executive editor and chief content officer how the site’s audience might be involved in that process moving forward, Roberts gave an intriguing answer:
The audience will continue to play an important role in the development and sharing of the news at Mashable. Jim views this as “mobilizing the audience to report out the subject.” In its most simple form, it could mean asking for readers to share photos. But Jim envisions giving out news assignments to readers, which is interesting to me.
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Mashable Names Jim Roberts to Oversee Content Expansion (NYT)
Mashable, the digital media site, said Wednesday morning that it had hired Jim Roberts as executive editor and chief content officer, part of its push to expand the range of its content. Mashable’s announcement comes as many digital websites are looking to deepen their content by adding professional journalists in foreign bureaus and on investigative teams. Roberts spent much of his career at The New York Times, where he most recently served as assistant managing editor before taking a company buyout in January. He then worked briefly at Reuters. In both jobs, Roberts championed a digital strategy that included using interactive tools, social media and video to augment traditional storytelling techniques. paidContent The news about Roberts — whose most recent job was trying to reinvent Reuters online, until the wire service company decided to mothball the venture — came as a surprise to many, since he is a veteran newsman and Mashable is seen by some as a pageview-driven source of entertainment rather than a place that does serious journalism. Mashable Roberts: “Although this is the beginning of a new journey, it also feels like the natural progression for an editor who loves the news and loves even more the opportunity to experiment with new and innovative ways of spreading it to an audience — and growing that audience in the process.” FishbowlNY Roberts joins editor-in-chief Lance Ulanoff and a Web braintrust that includes Adam Ostrow, Mike Kriak, Stacy Martinet, Robyn Peterson and Seth Rogin.
To some it might seem a bit of a departure. You might imagine a headline like: “Longtime New York Times and Reuters veteran forsakes legacy media for digital upstart.”
Perhaps, but only from an old-guard union employee manning a chugging printing press. For the rest of us, the more accurate headline is something like, “Jim Roberts Rises from the Ashes of Next to Join One of Next Big Things.” Mashable is already big, of course, but Roberts writes that he sees tremendous growth potential, especially in the area of video journalism.
Seth Rogin, The New York Times’ VP of advertising for the past 13 years, is leaving the company to join Mashable. Ad Age reports that Rogin will become Mashable’s first chief revenue officer.
At Mashable, Rogin will lead a team of 18. “Mashable is really excelling in reaching the tech-focused, internet-focused audience,” Rogin told Ad Age. “We can bring in brands that want to reach this audience like auto, apparel, and entertainment.”
The New York Times and Reuters are reporting that CNN is going to acquire Mashable. Felix Salmon of Reuters said that the deal could be announced tomorrow and the price tag could be a hefty $200 million.
Salmon did add that he “didn’t know” if the rumor about the acquisition was true, and reps for CNN and Mashable declined to comment on the talks to the Times. The paper didn’t take that for an answer though, and did some sleuthing:
There was a social media hint about the potential acquisition early Monday morning when Adam Ostrow, the executive editor of Mashable, ‘liked’ on Facebook Mr. Salmon’s story for Reuters.
Stay tuned (glued?) for more details.
UPDATE: Brian Stelter of the Timesjust tweeted that Mashable has denied the timing: “In email to staff, Pete Cashmore says it ‘isn’t true’ that @Mashable ‘will be acquired this week.’ (Doesn’t deny NYT report of talks w/CNN.)”
Mashable isn’t just for social media nerds anymore. The site has added an Entertainment, United States News and World News section to its coverage, and hired a new editor, Lance Ulanoff. He comes to Mashable from PCMag.com and will work with Adam Ostrowbefore he moves up to Executive Editor. Ulanoff decided to move on because of the site’s intense readership. “Its readers are early adopters and that is what is so exciting to me,” he told The New York Times. “I see all of these eyeballs waiting to share even more.”
Pete Cashmore, the site’s CEO and Founder, says the next stop is world domination. Or something very close to that:
Mr. Cashmore said expanding entertainment coverage and creating a content channel for United States and world news is part of Mashable’s plan to become ‘the source of news for the digital generation.’
FishbowlNY isn’t sure people are going to flock to the site for news stories, but the entertainment section should be a hit. We look forward to a piece on which actor is most like which Angry Bird and why.
Mashable – the technology website with a social media focus – is one hell of a success story. The site was launched by Pete Cashmore when he was only 19 years old, and today attracts almost 13 million unique visitors a month.
He tells Entrepreneur that he was initially attracted to the Internet because he was bed-ridden for a long period of time as a teenager, and blogging gave him a sense of productivity. And to think, some say people who blog from their beds are losers. Take that America!
Some other items we learned about Cashmore from the interview:
The moment mbStartups has been waiting for is here. Mashable, which is already an excellent news source for digital media, has stepped up its game with the launch of Mashable Follow: a new tool for personalizing and sharing news. With this new social layer, every story and topic on the site will have a “follow” and “unfollow” button that readers can use to create and refine a personal “my stories” feed.
There are already tools for publishers to track which stories got the most page views and shares after they’ve been posted, but what’s interesting about the “follow” button is that it offers a way for publishers to gauge interest in stories that haven’t been written. Just yesterday, FishbowlNY told the story of how business editor Peter Goodman left the New York Times for AOL simply because he had more freedom to follow up on stories that otherwise might not have fit into the editorial calendar. If a lot of users are following a particular story, that will be a pretty obvious sign to Mashable’s editors that a follow-up story is in order.
“Mashable Follow is the natural extension of social media within the news experience,” said Pete Cashmore, Mashable founder and CEO in a statement. Readers can now log in with Facebook or Twitter, which automatically imports their contacts into the system. Once they create a profile, they can follow their friends or see reading lists from other users with similar interests. With an improved link sharing function, users can post articles to Facebook, Twitter, Google Buzz or Digg with a single click.
Mashable has even managed to throw in a gaming element – there are badges for readers who make comments, follow or share stories, and connect with other users. (How about a politeness badge? Best spelling and grammar? Most creative spam attempt?)
The future of news is here and we have to say, it’s a step up from getting a newspaper clipping in the mail from grandma. If you (or your grandmother) are still confused, check out the demo below:
Despite tough times, or perhaps because of them, last night’s Mashable ‘State of the New York Blogosphere’ event at the Tribeca 92StY was a packed affair. And as is wont to happen when you fill a room with social networking internty types, most of what happens finds its socially networked way on to the Internet in one form or another. Something that is particularly fortuitous for latecomers such as ourselves. See also here, here, and here.
Despite our tardiness we did manage to catch The Daily Beast‘s Bryan Keefer (we hear all the panelists were great, by the way) talk a bit about the question on all our minds these days: how do we get paid? In this clip (after the jump) he discusses the ways in which online advertisers need to change their approach (why can’t online ads look like Super Bowl ads?!), which he says is something they are working on at the Daily Beast. But also! Why micropayments and packaged content won’t work! “People are willing to pay for entertainment in a way they are not willing to pay for text,” says Keefer. We shall see!