What Makes a Music Journalist Good?

scottkfish_barndoor_drumsticksSKF NOTE: Getting to know, to work with, great freelance writers and photographers was a favorite part of my work at Modern Drummer. As Managing Editor I was MD‘s chief liaison for work assignments with freelance writers and photographers.

Last year I was invited to speak to a class of music majors at the University of Maine in Augusta about their opportunities in music journalism. One of the topics I had in mind was, from my Managing Editor’s point of view, what makes a good music journalist or writer?

The internet has changed much of the relationship between music writers and editors. Sometimes the internet has made that relationship obsolete. But there are principles of music journalism, whether a person is writing for a publication or for their own blog, that still hold true. For example, here are the qualities I valued most in MD’s freelance writers and photographers. (There are some qualities unique to photographers I will address in a later post.)

  • Has good, unique ideas and can follow through on them.
  • Meets deadlines.
  • Sense of humor.
  • Flexible. Has a Plan B, C and D in mind for when Plan A fails and can easily adapt to them.
  • Great personality. Is a good ambassador for MD.
  • Knows the subject.
  • Makes the interview about the subject, not about the writer.
  • Submits manuscripts needing no or little editing.
  • Dependable. If they say they are going to do something, they do it.
  • Willing and able to make/take constructive criticism and direction.


About Scott K Fish

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1 Response to What Makes a Music Journalist Good?

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