March 14, 2017 Last Updated 11:08 am

The NYT to create ‘Reader Center’ to build bonds with readership, facilitate feedback

Also hiring: Axios Media, the new media property founded by Politico veterans Jim VandeHei, Mike Allen and Roy Schwartz – they plan to expand into science, and will hire around a dozen new staffers before the end of the year

The New York Times today posted an opening for a new position, Editor, Reader Center. The new role is designed to expand considerably on what the Public Editor does by building ways for more interaction with NYT readers.

“The readers of The New York Times are one of our greatest strengths,” the recruitment post said. “Their financial support pays for our newsroom, allowing us to hire the best journalists and deploy them around the globe. In the social media age, our readers’ voices often amplify what we stand for: the power of information, ideas and debate to shape the world and inspire change.”

The new position will be in the newsroom, not in marketing or some other department. Among the duties of the position are:

  • Create a more effective system for editors and reporters to receive and respond to feedback from readers — whether tips, suggestions, questions or complaints.
  • Partner with the masthead to establish a regular column that would feature newsroom leaders answering questions from readers, often about contentious topics. The editor will also facilitate real-time responses from the newsroom leadership whenever an especially significant issue or complaint surfaces.
  • Partner with The Times’s social media team to monitor the conversation about The Times’s journalism on Facebook, Twitter and other social platforms.
  • Partner with our community team to improve how we highlight readers’ points of view through comments and call-outs.
  • Partner with our Marketing Department on how we speak to readers about the value of Times journalism.
  • Partner with our Customer Care department in Marketing to ensure that readers who direct concerns to the newsroom about subscriptions and related issues are routed to appropriate channels.

Looks like a lot of partnering.

What is missing from the recruitment post, however, is any specifics concerning experience and skills.

“We are seeking a smart and collaborative editor to run the Reader Center. The ideal candidate is someone who wants to think deeply about and connect with Times readers — from longtime print subscribers to newcomers who are just becoming familiar with our journalism through social media or search,” the post states vaguely.

Well, an opening at the NYT is always a great thing, I suppose – but since I am here in Chicago I guess I won’t be applying.

But the new position is something that should be encouraged. In fact, I see this as somewhat similar to the kind of position I have been hoping Apple, Google or Facebook would create. Except instead of readers being the target audience it would be content publishers.

Last year Facebook created a News Partnerships position, hiring former CNN anchor Campbell Brown to lead it. Unfortunately, rather than the position being one that would interface with content publishers to solve partner problems, the position ended up being a marketing position designed to help Facebook sell publishers on cooperating even more with the social network.

Clearly this new NYT position is also designed to help the paper sell more digital subscriptions, but that is only the end goal, with the near term goals being better communications and better products. A good step in the right direction.

The NYT is not the only one hiring. Vanity Fair’s Emily Jane Fox reports that Axios will be hiring about a dozen more staff before the end of this year as it expands into science.

The media company, launched by Politico veterans Jim VandeHei, Mike Allen and Roy Schwartz, has been able to attract some familiar names in media such as Dan Primack, Ina Fried and Amy Harder, and has been building its audience.

As it continues to expand thanks to $10 million in financing it will be on the clock as it tries to prove its model.

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