Blogs the way to showcase freelance talent, says Guardian editor

Freelance writers looking for work should consider showcasing their talents using a weblog, according to Guardian Unlimited assistant editor Neil McIntosh.

“If you take the view that the most vibrant area of debate for many issues is now online – rather than in print – then having some kind of presence online makes a lot of sense for any freelance [commentator] who wants to follow, and participate in, the debate,” Mr McIntosh said.

“Either freelances are so busy and happy with their existing work that they haven’t got time or the need to write for free, or they’ve got some spare capacity with which they could build a brand.

“I’ve seen blogs make journalists’ names… their blogs give them a higher profile among a certain audience than their printed work would ever command.”

The Guardian first launched a nascent weblog in 2000 and has won many admirers for its efforts in integrating the new medium into its news operation.

Mr McIntosh, who co-ordinates the paper’s blog programme, was responding to concern from some members of the journalism email group Fleet Street Forum about how its new opinion blog portal, Comment Is Free, pays contributors. And he denied the publication was less keen to hire writers who do not blog.

“If that were true, a lot of our staff wouldn’t be here,” he said. “Blogs are a great help to job seekers, especially young journalists looking to show off their ability, but they’re not an entry requirement here.”

Guardian Unlimited editor-in-chief Emily Bell said in April: “All journalists should blog. If you’re starting now as a young writer… you have to engage with the format and try it out.”

Guardian freelancers who contribute to Comment Is Free will receive a fee if one of their blog posts is promoted to the site’s home page, said Mr McIntosh.

• Freelance journalist and blogger Neil Baker asked Richard Sambrook, head of global news at the BBC, how freelance journalists should use blogs when he interviewed him at the We Media conference in London last week. You can listen to Mr Sambrook’s response here.