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Food Safety News

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Letter From The Editor: Publishing the Rolodex

When I began in the business, there was a question that editors would ask when considering someone for hire. That question was: “How good is his (or her) rolodex?

I admit the first couple times I heard this I thought it might be a polite substitute for a different kind of measurement, but then I figured out it was a real concern. Once for a coveted job, an editor I was working for brought in two outside candidates with their rolodexes.

Those two competed in a Rolodex derby, seeing which could produce the best contacts for a daily newspaper job to kill for. It was after that that I went out and bought a Rolodex that gave me about 20 years of service.

It’s been a long time since a friend called me, asking if I had anybody he or she was looking for in that big spinning rolo. The idea of sharing a name or two with a friend was common practice.

But the one thing you’d never do is print your Rolodex in the newspaper. I am not sure where the practice of publishing, “Top” lists in magazines and newspapers began. For a long time, it struck me as not wise. Can sharing your rolodex with everybody really be a good idea?

As old school as I am, I do recognize we’re living in a different world now. The media cannot demand transparency out of government and industry if we do not practice it ourselves. If readers did not like “Top” lists so much, there would not be so many of them.

And then there’s the responsibility factor. Since we began publishing four years ago, Food Safety News has emerged an authoritative, go-to resource. We’ve reached the point where we have responsibilities in this transparent world.

One of these is to “share the rolodex” by publishing the people and organizations we hold to be food safety leaders. Food Safety News this week is publishing our first list of food safety leaders.  I’ve no doubt that our rolodex is incomplete, so as you brows lists of leaders in education, government and other categories, feel free to let us know who else we should add.

© Food Safety News
  • I think this is great. Absolutely, and thank you!

  • mmcnicholas


    and most especially in the Food Safety world.
    I think also the publishing of rolodexes is slow (or maybe quickly) being rent from our hands with the likes of LinkedIn. I will admit that one of my hiring criteria is to link up with a candidate and look at their contacts list in detail. If they have it, they have it, and if not, well, and it may be unfair, we are in 2013 and if you are not embracing 2013 technology, then it might be best longterm for the company to find someone who is.
    Being a technical dope myself, I realise this may seem unfair, however, I try very hard – and get a lot of help from my kids.