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Q&A: The mobile editor

Titles for newsroom staff don’t exactly look the same as they did 10 years ago. Social media editors, multimedia reporters and now mobile editors have slowly become integral mainstays in newsrooms. Dedicating an editor to content for the iPad and other mobile devices is a fairly young practice, a result of newspapers and magazines increasingly releasing apps dedicated to smartphones and tablets. inVocus spoke with British Columbia-based Province newspaper’s iPad/mobile editor Carey Gillette about what her position entails and the significance she has to her newsroom.

KMM: As the iPad/mobile editor, what are your responsibilities?

Carey Gillette (CG): Basically I oversee the publication and content of our iPad, iPhone, Android, and PlayBook apps. I’m responsible for putting together the content that is unique to the apps, as well as publishing the iPad/PlayBook apps throughout the day. I recently also took on the job of “renovating” our mobile-optimized website, to provide better content for our mobile readers. I don’t handle the technical end of things – all of that is handled through Postmedia Digital, which is part of our parent company. They handle the back end of things and fix the glitches. I’m responsible for content, special features and daily publication of the apps.

KMM: How long have you held this position? Is it a fairly new title at the paper?

CG: I started the job in December of 2010, about 10 days before we launched our first app, which was for the iPad. Before that, I was the editor of the entertainment section. There was no one in this position before me – I just had to kind of make it up as I went along. It’s been challenging, but very rewarding as we’ve seen our numbers grow. Since then, we’ve added apps for iPhone, Android and PlayBook.

KMM: How integral of a role do you think it is to most newspapers nowadays?

CG: It’s probably a position that every media outlet should look at adding to their staff. All of the data I’ve seen has shown that more and more people are accessing content through mobile devices, whether it be a smartphone or tablet. And research has shown that people who use those devices are more likely to search out news. So you really need someone who will look out for the best interests of the mobile readers when decisions are being made. It also helps to have someone search out specialty content to try to differentiate what’s in each app. After all, what a smartphone user wants to read when he’s standing in the coffee-shop lineup isn’t necessarily what a tablet user wants to read when he’s relaxing on the couch after putting the kids to bed.

KMM: How do you think your title reflects contemporary journalism?

CG: No one knows what the future looks like for journalism. Things are changing so fast and the real struggle will be how to make money off the content that people are used to getting for free. But one thing that newspapers in particular have long struggled with is attracting younger readers to its product. With mobile devices, the opportunity has never been better to reach and engage that audience. And that is where the mobile editor can make a difference.

–Katrina M. Mendolera

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