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Sunday, April 06, 2003  
Wrong decision, Matthew Yglesias

Most liberal bloggers and some conservatives, as well, congratulated Matthew Yglesias, a 21-year-old Harvard senior who is a prominent collegiate blogger, on accepting his first job in the real world last week. He made the announcement March 2.

Matt Turns Pro

I feel a little bad that so many of today’s posts are on the silly side (butterfly month, UNIX stalking, etc.) because I actually have an important piece of news on the only topic that really matters — my future. Specifically, I’ve recently accepted a position as a writing fellow at The American Prospect where I’ll be working next September-September. Very exciting stuff.

The news was greeted with much jubilation, as many aging bloggers relived their youthful experiences of first-time employability.

April 03, 2003

Congrats to Matt

Congratulations to Matthew Yglesias, who has been named a Writing Fellow at The American Prospect. There's quite a few writing pros who have become bloggers, but Matt's the first (though surely not the last) example of a blogger becoming a professional, at least as far as I know. I join the many commenters on Matt's site in offering my best wishes and saluting TAP for their good taste.

I am disappointed. Not because I entertain visions of Matt's full, rosy cheeks turning gaunt and gray as he survives on Ramen noodles while sending out resume after resume. I am disappointed because I wanted him to become a mainstream journalist.

Hark! Hear those sharp intakes of breath? Mainstream journalists are not popular in the blogosphere, though there are quite a few of us with that job description under our belts at one time or another. Reporters are perceived as incompetent or sometimes just plain dishonest. The woeful performances of the Washington Post's Susan Schmidt and Peter Baker last week did nothing to improve the profession's image in Bloggersville or elsewhere.

So, why would I want Matt, a person of proven intellectual acuity and considerable writing skill to join 'the enemy'? Because, it (or perhaps we, I may return to full-time reporting at some point) need him. If news that is properly gathered, written and edited is to make it into our newspapers, we need people capable of performing those tasks competently on their staffs.

I believe Matthew would make an excellent mainstream reporter. He would bring both the needed skills, a questioning mind and youthful vigor to the task. His training as a philosopher would prove useful in news meetings, where 'why should we cover that?' is a recurring question. (But, he would need to keep his answer short.) His multilinguality would make him a useful resource both in the States and abroad.

The sharp-eyed will have realized my plans for Matthew are based on a tenuous foundation: That he was courted by major feeder newspapers such as the Des Moines Register, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and the Boston Herald. If he wasn't, then their loss is TAP's gain. However, after he has had a couple years of experience there, I hope Matt will consider mainstream journalism as his next move.

The newspapers missed a great opportunity with one blogger in transition, but I've noticed a couple other opportunites. Jesse Taylor of Pandagon, another fine collegiate blogger, likely needs a summer job and will soon be looking for full-time employment, too. Like Matthew, he would make a very capable reporter and should be sought after. Julian Sanchez, 23, of Notes from the Lounge, is considering what to do next after experience as a fellow at the Cato Institute.

Bridge Burning 4/2/2003

So, looking back over the last few posts, it occurs to me that I'm doing a fair job of ensuring that I'll return to academia at some point by burning all the journalistic/pundit bridges someone like me would have taken.

. . .Well, there we go. Now I have to apply to graduate school.

Though Julian is currently enthralled by libertarianism, I suspect even three months as a reporter covering a city beat would bring him around. He should be sending resumes to newspapers and magazines. Grad school can come later.

Blogging is part of the media, not separate from it. I hope these three young bloggers and other, not so young bloggers, will consider the shift from this form of independent journalism to mainstream journalism for part of their career lives.

Note: The search string "Matthew Yglesias blog job" should not be Googled when looking for reactions to Matt's announcement.

4:03 PM