Tumblr’s first executive editor Jessica Bennett

February 3, 2012

Tumblr, the microblogging platform that has been experiencing explosive growth which I detailed recently, has hired Chris Mohney to become their editor-in-chief, along with Jessica Bennett, who will act as executive editor.

What exactly will they do? I spoke to Jessica to find out.

What do you envision the content you’re going to create to sound like? Will it be entirely on the staff blog or will there be some other platform?

What will the content sound like… I think it’ll sound a lot like the stories I write now. Probably less women’s issues, and certainly no Jerry Sandusky, but it will be real journalism — stories that are both about Tumblr’s users, what those users are creating, the social trends and cultural observations that are growing out of that creation, and the broader ideas and themes that surround it all. So: think trend stories — the democratization of creation. Think on the ground: who are the teen tumblr users in a remote town in Ukraine, and how did they find the platform? Think big picture: how is social media changing the way we interact and engage? Think data: what can Tumblr users tell us about the current presidential race? How do men and women interact differently online? Is it possible to find love on Tumblr? The mandate is broad, and the format will go beyond the written word. It’s really an opportunity to think outside the box, to experiment with what works — and to have some fun while we’re doing it.

Will you be given the opportunity to address issues in the Tumblr community, or is this more about broad general news outside of inter-tumblr community happenings?

Our goal is to surface genuinely interesting stories, to an audience of Tumblr users and the world at large. It’s definitely possible we’ll address what users are talking about. And we totally, totally encourage community input — how will we find the best stories if not taking tips and ideas from our users?

Will you be taking what’s being done already with tag pages and evolving them or is that outside the scope of this?

Tag pages — We’ll be looking at all the ways we highlight and tell the stories of creators on the site, initially beginning with the Staff blog and then looking for other places to tell their stories. Tag pages and evolving them are definitely on the agenda.

Why does Tumblr need these two roles, that you and Chris will assume? What will it bring to someone who comes to Tumblr?

I think the fact that they’re bringing us on shows a real commitment to creativity, to ideas, to the curiosity and intelligence of the tumblr community, and to really showcase the ways this platform is being used to innovate. It’s storytelling in it’s most basic form. Tumblr has 42 million users. If this were a physical place, wouldn’t journalists be covering it? It’s a window into this world that is growing by the minute — and into the stories, ideas and creativity that’s shaping it.

Will you both have full control over what you produce and final edit?

That’s the plan! To do our journalistic thang.

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