About Me

Name: Adam Bernard
Home: Fairfield, Connecticut, United States
About Me: Entertainment journalist with 15+ years of experience. Supporter of indie music. Lover of day baseball, fringe movies, & chicken shawarma. Part time ninja. Nerdy, but awesome.
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Great Music Journalism Advice From Kids
Monday, May 21, 2012

Last month I was a featured speaker at Greens Farms Academy’s The Power of the Pen writing conference, where I spoke to groups of 6th - 8th graders about entertainment journalism. While I’m sure I taught them a few things, they also reminded me of a very important facet of music journalism that a lot of us tend to forget in our efforts to find the most interesting possible story - talking about the music is still really important.

I worked with two groups of kids. The first was a group of 6th and 7th graders. One of the aspects of my workshop involved giving the students an interview to read (not one I did) and have them talk about what they felt the writer did well, and where they felt the feature was lacking, so they could take the idea of being constructive about everything they read and utilize it with their own work.

One of the first critiques of the interview surprised me, but it was completely spot on - “I still don’t know anything about his music.” I asked the entire group if they all felt this way and they agreed. I then asked if they’d be interested in hearing this artist’s music based on the interview and the reply was a chorus of “no.”

When the next group came in, this time filled with 8th graders, after they read the same interview I immediately posed the question “based on this interview what do you know about this artist’s music?” The answer was “nothing.” I then asked if this interview made them want to listen to the artist’s music. Again, I received a chorus of “no.”

As music journalists we oftentimes get wrapped up in telling the most interesting possible story because, when you get right down to it, that’s our job. We can’t forget, however, when we’re writing features on non-mainstream acts, no matter how familiar we may be with their music, most people reading the feature won’t be, and if that audience reads the entire feature and leaves with no knowledge of the artist’s music, and no desire to check them out, our articles will be doing nothing but preaching to the choir. A very small, never growing, choir.

This is something I’m sure I have been guilty of in the past, but will probably never be guilty of again, because every time I read over a feature before I hand it in, or hit “publish,” I’m going to think of those kids, and make sure readers will know something about the artist’s music, and not come away with no idea of what they sound like.

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