Today I have a question for all of my Gen Y comrades in journalism: Does your online presence do more to hurt you or to help you?
I ask because after rediscovering some old opinion pieces that I wrote for my college newspaper, I have to wonder. If a journalist 20 years ago wrote a few articles that s/he was less than proud of, I can’t imagine it would be too difficult to tuck those away without worrying that a future employer might find them on his or her own accord.
It isn’t that anything I wrote in college (or even before college) was particularly damning, but I do think that my writing has evolved (and in theory, improved) over the years. Nearly three summers ago I was writing daily articles for a pop culture blog. They’ll always come up when I search my name on Google — because yeah, I do that — but my aesthetic has changed. I was 19 then and I’m nearly 22 now. I don’t submit many of those blog posts when I apply for writing positions, and I look back on some of them and laugh, but others make me cringe. It’s like watching a home video of yourself at age four, acting bratty during your family’s Florida vacation. You don’t throw poolside tantrums anymore, but it’s still embarrassing, and it still reflects on you in some way.
There are other aspects of the Internet’s double-edged sword that I’ll someday ponder at greater length on here. But in the meantime, I’m curious, what has the Internet done to help or to hinder your journalistic career?