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“Smart people blogging”: Becca Ford on the OUPblog

On the tenth anniversary of OUPblog, we’ve asked past editors to reflect on their experiences and favorite memories. Today we speak to Rebecca Bernstein (aka Becca Ford) who served as OUPblog Editor from 2006-2010.

No OUPblog editor has had a longer tenure than Rebecca Ford. She shepherded the blog through its early years and many of its growing pains, ranging from redesigns to blog attacks. She was also a tireless advocate of blogging across the industry, whether speaking with Publishers Weekly or organizing a question-and-answer session with our publisher. We talked about her life and ambition as an OUPblog editor.

What was your proudest moment as OUPblog editor?

Both redesigns of the blog were huge undertakings and truly works of love. The first, in Spring 2007 was meant to propel the blog into the mainstream and set the tone for where we were headed. The second, right before I resigned in 2010, was intended to give OUP inspiration to keep the blog going, even after my departure. I think both redesigns achieved their goals pretty spectacularly.

What was your most stress-inducing moment?

The morning I realized male-enhancement advertisers had hacked the blog. Walking into Purdy’s (my boss) office to let him know was terrifying. Little did I know that being hacked was a compliment (we finally had enough traffic to be worth hacking)!

When did you think that you might be on to something?

I had a hunch we were on the right track when Evan Schnittman (then VP of Business Development and Rights) decided he wanted to write for the blog. Evan was a bigwig and I was a measly blog editor only a few years out of college. His posts really raised the caliber of contributions from within the company and encouraged others to follow suit.

How has the blog influenced you?

Working on the blog raised all sorts of interesting legal questions that gave me the chance to meet and seek advice from OUP General Counsel Barbara Cohen. Speaking with her about the legal grey areas the blog kept stumbling upon made me want to be a lawyer (something I had never previously considered). Before working with Barbara I had seen the law as stale, essentially the same since the 1800s. The legal questions surrounding the early days of the OUPblog though, were without straightforward answers. I realized IP law was a rapidly changing field full of interesting “maybes” and that a career as an IP lawyer would never be boring.

What one resource would you recommend to someone who wanted to become a blog editor?

Read everything. Seriously. Read books. Read blogs. Read magazines. Read Twitter. Read the ads on the subway. Read. Read. Read. In fact, if you aren’t the kind of person who gets anxious on public transit without reading material, this is not the right job for you.

What are you reading right now?

I usually read fiction (still detoxing from years of non-fiction at OUP and in law school) but oddly enough I’m on a non-fiction kick again right now. I am about 100 pages into The Third Plate by Dan Barber.

How would you sum your editorship up in 3 words?

Smart people blogging.

Featured image: Laptop. Photo by Luke Chesser. CC0 via Unsplash.

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