Aug 022010
 
Image representing Tumblr as depicted in Crunc...
Image via CrunchBase

By now, plenty of traditional media companies have hopped on the social media bandwagon, pumping out news updates on Facebook and Twitter.

But do those companies have the time and resources to work yet another Web outlet into their daily routine?

Mark Coatney certainly hopes so. Mr. Coatney, a 43-year-old journalist, is the latest hire at Tumblr, a fast-growing blogging service based in New York that says it has 6.6 million users.

Until last month, Mr. Coatney was a senior editor at Newsweek, where as a side project he headed up the magazine’s social efforts on Twitter and Facebook. Last year he decided to add Tumblr to his repertoire.

“I saw it as an opportunity to talk to our audience in a new way,” he said. On Twitter, he said, “the main feedback comes mostly from retweeting,” or retransmitting an interesting message. On Tumblr, “the tone is a lot more conversational.”

Mr. Coatney quickly cultivated a following on Tumblr for his thought-provoking, quick-witted posts. Often they included commentary that was funny and bordering on acerbic — something he was able to get away with largely because “no one at Newsweek really knew what I was doing,” he said.

The credibility he established among Tumblr users, and the fact that Newsweek was one of the first big publishers to sign on, cemented Tumblr’s decision to hire him, company executives said.

Over the last few months, other media outlets have caught wind of Tumblr, which is free to use. The newest recruits include The Atlantic, Rolling Stone, BlackBook Media Corporation, National Public Radio, The Paris Review, The Huffington Post, Life magazine and The New York Times.

But many of those outlets have done little more than set up a placeholder page. In his new job as a “media evangelist,” Mr. Coatney’s role, and in some ways his challenge, is to help them figure out what to do next.

Mr. Coatney describes Tumblr as “a space in between Twitter and Facebook.” The site allows users to upload images, videos, audio clips and quotes to their pages, in addition to bursts of text.

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