Music, TV and all things entertainment reporting drove the discussion at 14 East’s Entertainment Public Newsroom on Monday night. Panelists and entertainment reporters Alejandro Hernandez, Ariel Mejia and Nekia Nichelle shared their career insights, experiences and advice about the entertainment journalism industry.
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1. Make genuine connections
Our speakers come from different backgrounds and beats in arts and culture, but one thing they shared that helped jump-start their careers was meeting people in the field that they were interested in and making genuine connections with them. There are many opportunities for aspiring journalists, and our panelists showed it’s okay to branch out.
2. Building your own brand
Building a brand for yourself is an important part of working as a freelance journalist in entertainment. Nichelle and Hernandez advised to cut out the middleman and compile your work in one place like your own website instead of relying on social media platforms or publications which can be unpredictable. Furthermore, they emphasized having your own brand that isn’t just tied to your day-to-day job. If you come in with an established brand, when it is time to move on to future endeavors, you will still have your brand with you.
3. Bringing Humanity
Looking to have the conversations no one else is having with artists? Our panelists spoke on the importance of humanizing the talent and artists they interview. When preparing for an interview, it is important to do your research and have some questions ready. This will help you know what has already been asked. However, don’t let overpreparing get in the way of your own curiosity and having a free-flowing conversation. Freelancer and storyteller Hernandez said he is all about going with the flow. Our panelists encouraged digging deeper beyond the artist’s work.
4. Cater to Your Audience
In such a fast-paced society where we can gain information on multiple platforms, it is important to consider how to best reach your audience. During the panel, our speakers expressed that while it is important to build your own brand, it is also crucial to create what entertainment reporter and entrepreneur Nichelle calls an “ecosystem of digital landscape.” Ensure that you create multiple avenues for your audience to hear, read or see your content. This helps you meet your audience where they are comfortable.
5. Establishing your credibility
The panelists were adamant that your true credibility will not come from chasing the tea and gossip. Hernandez said that following it might give you a quick boost, but it’s not worth it. Spending your day searching for negative things in someone’s life is not fulfilling, according to Nichelle, who strives to ask new, invigorating questions to entertainment stars. Where should you go instead of gossip? Podcast host and Vocalo Radio Producer Mejia says to follow your curiosity and ask questions that humanize the celebrity. If there’s some curiosity about rumored gossip, it’s okay to ask.
This public newsroom was inspired by and in partnership with City Bureau. The event was co-hosted with DePaul NAHJ and DUABJ.
Header photo by Monique Petty-Ashmeade, 14 East