BY: Sandy Cohen
AP Entertainment Writer
LOS ANGELES –Remember the MTV VJ? That’s so two decades ago. Now the network is looking to hire its first TJ, or Twitter Jockey.
MTV officials say the search is on for a new social media maven who will engage with the MTV audience and serve as a liaison between viewers and network honchos.
MTV General Manager Stephen Friedman called the TJ position “a natural evolution of how we connect with our audience.”
The network has identified 18 potential candidates and is asking its audience to find two more. The 20 hopefuls will compete in a series of online challenges this summer designed to reveal their personalities and demonstrate how they connect with Twitter followers.
Five finalists will ultimately compete on a live show on Aug. 8, when fans will pick who gets the new job.
“The hope is that this person will be dynamic, engaging and energized, an enthusiast within the social media world,” said Dave Sirulnik, the executive overseeing the contest. “Somebody who will represent the audience by taking their thoughts and questions and … through an ongoing dialogue with them, be able to bring those questions inside the walls here to the people who make MTV.”
The new Twitter Jockey will report on MTV events, such as the Video Music Awards in September, and appear on-air periodically.
“While they won’t be on TV the way VJs were,” Sirulnik said, “they will always be on.”
Insight MTV executives gain through the new online representative’s interaction with fans could influence programming and network decisions, Friedman said.
“Twitter and Facebook enable us to make smarter decisions,” he said. “This will benefit us hopefully as much as it benefits the audience.”
Viewers can nominate themselves or their favorite Facebook friends for the position online beginning Monday. The MTV TJ will be based in New York and earn a six-figure salary.
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