Skip the references. Where do you blog?
Just ran across this Nov. 29 article by "N.Z. Bear" (writer of The Truth Laid Bare Web log and the TTLB Blogosphere Ecosystem blog ranking) in which "Mr. Bear" (as the New York Times would do it) has this fascinating observation:
If you were an editor looking for a new hire these days, what would your first move be after checking your candidate's resume and clips?I have a feeling that editors don't yet give this quite the same weight as a clip file, but I'm wondering how many are starting to make this a part of their regular hiring and talent-scouting routine. If you think about it, this might be as valuable as clips -- not only does it show whether the writer can produce solid, engaging copy with some research (rather than just spouting off), but it also shows whether that writer can be a good self-editor (saving everyone time and thus less likely to engage the wrath of the copy desk).
To check their blog, of course. And what self-respecting Bob Woodward wannabe doesn't have a blog now? (As our hypothetical editor, would you even consider hiring a candidate who didn't?) In the Good Old Days, an editor would have to rely on a few clips that the candidates chose themselves, and maybe if they were lucky would be able to get their hands on additional pieces from the college rag their young supplicant learned their craft. Now, the blogosphere provides a ready-made proving ground for any aspiring writer to show that they have the talent and the craft necessary to string words together in forms vaguely pleasing to a reader's eye -- and the imagination and stamina to keep those same readers coming back for more. (Link to full article.)
This idea was one of the points behind the J-School Year blog project in which USC students are documenting a year in j-school.
Update: A thoughtful response from Martin Stabe in the UK.