BBC News appoints first social media editor

LONDON - BBC News has joined a small number of media groups and appointed Alex Gubbay as its first social media editor.

Gubbay, currently interactive news editor for BBC Sport, will start work in January and focus on editorial development of user-generated content and social media initiatives across the BBC newsroom.

Part of that work will involve coordinating the work of correspondents and reporters using social media tools, ensuring best practice is developed and shared within BBC Journalism.

The BBC said that the new role, funded by reprioritising existing budgets within the BBC Newsroom, has initially been offered as a 12-month attachment in an effort to assess the BBC's priorities in the rapidly changing social media environment.

His appointment follows that by other media groups appointing social media editors including The New York Times, which in May named Jennifer Preston as its first social media editor.

At the BBC Gubbay will manage the existing user generated content hub within BBC Newswire, which involves coordinating news and comment and debate on all of the Newsroom platforms.

The BBC's UGC hub is a central part of BBC News and has played a role in generating news on stories including the recent Iranian protests, violence in western China, and many UK consumer and social affairs issues.

In addition part of his role will be to help develop new ways for audiences to have their say on stories being covered by BBC News.

Mary Hockaday, the BBC's head of newsroom, said: "The way audiences consume and interact with news is changing. New social media platforms allow audiences to get, share and comment on the news, and are becoming distribution channels in their own right.

"Alex will lead our work in this area to build an open relationship with our audience, and make sure our distinctive journalism reaches as many people as possible."

In his new role Gubbay will also be tasked with looking at third party social media tools and networks including Twitter, Facebook and Digg as the BBC increasingly opens itself up to the outside world.

Gubbay, however, is something of a newcomer to Twitter and only made his first tweet as @Alexgubbay today.