Behind the News, The Unemployed Life

Unemployed journalist rule #1: Get copies of your work immediately!

As any motivated journalist knows, our “clips” — copies of our work for media outlets — are the single most important possession in order to advance our careers. New employers ask for them, current employers review them before giving promotions. Especially in this media downward spiral, our clips are more important than ever.

So what the hell do you do when your employer destroys them?

My friend and former co-worker Anthony Salveggi has a great post up on his site concerning a “reporter’s worst nightmare.” He links to a story about a former International Herald Tribune writer who lost all the online links to his work when the New York Times merged the two paper’s websites:

… my entire journalistic career at the IHT – from war zones to SARS wards – has been erased.

In the past, reporters would photocopy their articles from the newspaper. But in this digital climate, when some stories never make it to print and live only online, more and more editors request digital copies of prospective employee’s work. And the New York Times just royally screwed this guy, well-respected reporter Thomas Crampton.

Turns out, the IHT isn’t the only paper to delete employees’ work. After Crampton detailed the incident on his blog, other reporters wrote to vent their own frustration about losing years of work instantly. From Fortune magazine and Time’s AsiaWeek to all of Knight-Ridder’s local newspaper websites, hundreds of reporters have seen their work disappear.

So, what’s the moral of the story? Get digital copies of your work! Within a week of leaving Creative Loafing, I had both paper and PDF copies of my best stories. (You can find a few examples in my About Me section.) Try to compile your clips as you write them.

Of course, that won’t help all future readers find your content in the future, but it will save you much hand-wringing down the line.

One thought on “Unemployed journalist rule #1: Get copies of your work immediately!”

  1. Thomas Crampton says:

    Excellent advice! I hope people follow it before too late. I think the NYT will eventually restore the IHT stories, but someone working for a newspaper that goes bust may not be so lucky!

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