Keep in mind that recommenders should not be peers (except in the rare case that recommendation instructions request a peer rec, as Stanford has done). They should be above you organizationally or, if in the same role, be senior by virtue of longer tenure. If your preferred choice is more like a peer, then probably you should choose the work person.
However, there are a lot of “ifs” that would influence my answer. Would the work person provide a strong rec, with unique and relevant insights? If yes, than that option gains strength in my eyes. If not, then your preferred option grows more appealing. The value of recommendations
in the adcoms’ eyes is that they provide fresh insight about you, they help the adcom get to know you. So your preferred option seems good in this regard. The question is credibility – if the adcom were to Google the journalist, would they see credible journalistic credits? If not, it could be a problem.
As you can see, it’s not black and white. The person you prefer seems to have some advantages, but I’m not sure of the credibility factor. So if you are able to answer my questions about the work person affirmatively, that would be the conservative/safe option.
Senior Advisor, Accepted
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