When I started blogging about journalism, I did so at the urging of a hiring editor (who didn’t, ultimately, hire me but did inspire me). I had all these great digital skills, she told me, but she asked why had I presented her with carbon-based clips (i.e. paper) instead of a URL. I left the job fair and put the years of web design experience I’d been amassing to good work, and by the end of the weekend had built myself a website with clips, a resume, a bio and a blog about, what else, journalism and my place in the evolving industry.
That was a few months before my college graduation. And after putting so much work into the blog, I proudly stamped the URL on my resume and included it in my cover letters to prospective employers. To be honest, the blog’s inclusion wasn’t so much a way to show off my work as to cover my ass. When I interviewed for jobs, I discussed it. When I was hired, I searched the employee handbook and intranet for information about personal blogs. Soon after I arrived, I sat down with the executive editor and we discussed it. See, what kept me up late at night wasn’t the prospect of graduating without a job, but rather I did not want one of those editors to plug my name in Google and come across my blog, assuming I had hid or was hiding it.
I had flashbacks to that period and those decisions when I heard the story of Khristopher Brooks, who was fired this week from the job he hadn’t yet started because of the way he announced his new job on his tumblr blog. Brooks did a silly thing, but in my opinion, the folks he thought would soon be his new bosses did an even sillier one. (In my honest opinion, I think they come off looking out-of-touch and overly cautious for a news organization currently force-feeding its employees the “digital first!” company line, and he comes off probably having dodged a bullet.)
Here’s what got Brooks fired, and then, here’s my been-there-done-that advice on how to not get fired for your personal journalism blog.