Former social media staffer: Times still too print-focused

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Jeremy Barr

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Liz Heron, who served as a social media producer and editor for The New York Times, said that her decision to leave stemmed from its focus on print.

Heron, who decamped for The Wall Street Journal in April 2012 and then to Facebook, where she serves as head of news partnerships, was responding to a Nieman Journalism Lab summary of the Times' leaked "Innovation" report. (Capital's own analysis, sent to subscribers yesterday afternoon, is here: http://capi.tl/1hOG0Xv. We're making it available to non-subscribers temporarily.)

"Here, in a nutshell, is why I left The New York Times, which some people might have thought was a little crazy at the time," she wrote. "For all its digital success, the NYT culture is still very print-focused. At least at The Wall Street Journal, a digital journalist like me was given a leadership role central to the news (though WSJ still has its own challenges, of course)."

Buzzfeed published a full copy of the report, which was spearheaded by Times staffer and scion Arthur Gregg Sulzberger yesterday.

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Among other things, it found that the Times was still operating on a print mentality, and had failed to make the necessary technology and workflow innovations to keep place with its digital rivals.

The Times has also relied too heavily on its homepage to generate traffic to the detriment of a more robust social media strategy, the report concluded.

But Heron, who worked at the Times from 2010 to 2012, expressed optimism that the report could spur change at the paper.

"Here's hoping this report promotes some positive transformation at all the traditional media organizations struggling with the transition to digital," she wrote. "And kudos to NYT for taking such an unsparing look at itself."