Medill alumnus Dan Fletcher hired as Facebook managing editor

Patrick Svitek

When Medill Prof. Rich Gordon opened his inaugural “Journalism and the Networked World” course in 2009 by asking how many students used Twitter, only a few hands poked up.

Among them was that of Dan Fletcher (BSJ ‘09) , who announced Thursday he has been hired as Facebook ‘s managing editor, a role yet to be publicly defined by the ubiquitous social network.

In an email to The Daily the same day, Fletcher, a former Daily staffer, confirmed the new job but declined to provide further details about what exactly it entails.

He told The Daily that the Facebook job will complement his previous stints both at Time magazine and at Bloomberg news service, where he most recently served as social media director.

At 22, Fletcher became the youngest journalist to land a cover story in TIME, writing about Facebook’s evolving privacy policy for the May 2010 issue.

In December, Forbes named Fletcher to its “30 Under 30” list in the Media category, calling him the “social media whiz kid who helps big news organizations wrap their heads around the future.”

Fletcher said Medill prepared him for these accomplishments by making him realize early on that the journalists of the future need to have a “digital foundation” as well as old-school skills.

“My career thus far has been trying to use technology with journalism,” he said. “Medill recognizes those are the type of jobs journalists are looking for right now, and they do it very well.”

Gordon recalled Fletcher as a stand-out student who embraced Medill’s first class related to different networks and how they correspond with journalism.

When the course was first offered in 2009, Fletcher had just finished his journalism residency at Time and “brought a lot of real-world perspective” to it, Gordon added. At TIME, Fletcher helped launch the magazine’s first forays into Facebook and Twitter.

“For many of the students, social media at that time was new to them,” Gordon said. “But it was not new to Dan.”

Fletcher also impressed former Daily Editor-In-Chief Libby Nelson as she oversaw the newspaper’s publication from 2008 to 2009. The two started out together as staff writers in Fall Quarter 2006.

“He’s very young to be this successful, but he’s worked for a lot of big names,” said Nelson, who is now a reporter with Inside Higher Education. “I’m not really surprised. He’s definitely shown an aptitude for this, and the company recognized that.”

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