Getting into entertainment journalism, K-pop edition
Plus an explainer and apology about why I'm not going to respond to career advice requests for the time being
A few weeks ago, I hosted a Space on Twitter that was essentially an intro to my career and a Q&A about getting into covering entertainment journalism, with a focus on K-pop.
It’s a topic that’s very close to my heart, and I really wanted to create a record of it to point people to.
I realize it’s not ideal to people who may have specific questions, but from now on I’m going to direct all people reaching out to me for advice about starting a career to this recording. I apologize for that inconvenience advance if it doesn’t cover a specific topic you wanted to know about.
Please note that this was a very casual conversation, so please take everything with a grain of salt and comment below if you would like any clarification. When I was going over the transcript, I was laughing at myself exaggerating a few things and just going on for almost 45 minutes on my own while trying to keep my energy up, so I hope you enjoy as well.
The conversation begins at 1:58 mark. Twitter had some elevator music, but I guess it doesn’t translate to the recordings.
An unedited, rather messy transcript of the conversation can be found here.
1:58 Introduction to the Space
3:38 Introduction to me and my career
7:16 “Do I need a degree in journalism to pursue a career in journalism?”
11:41 “‘I blog from an over 35 BIPOC person's perspective. This sometimes makes me feel like unicorn among other bloggers in the genre, even among established entertainment journalists, not many from the community. How can I reach a wider audience and develop my blog to a higher platform? Is there a way to turn blogging to a greater platform?’”
14:55 Reset the room
16:13 “‘How did you manage to get so many opportunities in different press outlets?’”
21:38 “‘Could you perhaps talk about how new or freelance journalist can work to get on pure mailing list to get regular press information?’”
23:46 “‘What are some unethical practices that budding writers should be conscious or wary of when writing about K-pop?’”
29:43 “‘How do you get past a writer's block?’”
30:37 “‘How do you stay grounded as a journalist when a feedback is immediate and can sometimes be cruel’”
34:14 “‘How do you recommend reaching out for press for events’?
38:46 “Is there still hope in true press quality reportage with so many fan driven sites that are producing similar content but with less diverse content and possibly content with lower quality than a large outlet for instance?’”
40:41 Just an apology here. I said op-ed writers and critics aren’t journalists went I meant they’re not reporters. There are many great critics who are undoubtedly great journalists. There are also some really shitty opinion writers out there, and that’s who I was thinking about.
44:10 “‘I’m just wondering from your point of view in journalism and in blogs, are there things that might not be covered as much on the K-pop scene or is there anything that you'd like to see more coverage of or that should be discussed more often?’”
47:15 “‘Do you think it could be helpful for entertainment journalists that cover an niche K-pop to connect in a group chat with other journalists from all over the world? Or is the competition too harsh and it can actually be a problem?’”
51:23 “‘How do you recommend finding the best place to pitch writing?”
57:35 “‘Where do you all think K-pop in entertainment journalism going? Is it changing? Which way is the wind blowing?’”
So I wanted to a space like this for a variety of reasons, but mostly it’s because I’m going to take a break from talking to people individually. I apologize in advance if you want to ever reach out to me specifically for career advice. I hope you find the recording helpful.
To be honest, I’ve spent hundreds of hours talking to, and get emails daily from, people hoping to break into this field. I used to get really invigorated by talking to people, and accepted these requests for years. I used to frequently post on social media that I’d be happy to chat with any and everyone who had questions about breaking into things. I got a lot of support from friends when I started, and still do, and I always wanted to pass it forward.
But lately it feels like people are demanding support from me carte blanche, with no care for my time or worth, or the work they’re ostensibly interested in learning from. Requests frequently come in with things like, “I stumbled upon your article XYZ and was wondering how you did ABC or got access to EFG?” or “I’m writing a research paper on this thing can I pick your brain for a two hour call?” A lot of people also, increasingly it seems, misconstrue the drive to enter this field as a journalist and just trying to get access as an influencer. There’s no problem with that, but I’m not a career counselor.
I used to feel really invigorated and inspired when sharing my perspective and experience with people and supporting them as pursue their path, and always wanted to be accessible. But lately it doesn’t feel like I and my worth are being respected or valued, so I’m going to set a boundary here. I don’t know if it’s just the influencerdom of everything and connectivity of the internet has made people not respect boundaries, but it’s been a feeling haunting me for a while now so I need to do this. I apologize, and thank you for your understanding if you’re still reading this.
I know some other writers offer consulting fees, and sure, if you want to reach out and set up a call for an hour and pay for my time I’d be happy to do so (firstname.lastname@example.org). But that’s not my goal here, and I don’t want to leave people without any resource or starting point, so I hope this recording, and the linked-to transcription are helpful to people.
Maybe I’ll do a regular Q&A column here if people request that, but to be honest… Yea. I don’t know. There are other people out there who are probably more responsive than me nowadays, who are less burnt out than me, who feel more valued by me by the industry, peers, and audience. I hope if you’re reading this and decide to reach out to them, you actually value them, their time, their worth, their expertise, and their humanity, and tell them that.
I don’t want to end this on such a blah note, so want to share this video of Japanese filmmaker Akira Kurosawa giving advice about writing. I think whatever field or passion people pursue, especially creative fields, it’s good advice that, far more eloquently essentially sums up to “take one step at a time while pursuing goals.” A good reminder for all of us*.
*The joke is on me though, because I’ve never set a goal in my life. Any tips? Maybe 2023 is the year I’ll find direction and make longterm plans.
What I’ve been reading:
Kat Bein's "Music Journalism Is Rotting From The Inside” - As I said, at least once a week, I get emails or DMs asking about how to break into this field. My first reaction is almost always, sadly enough, to say “don’t.” I don’t really know what to say anymore to young people, or just anyone, who is looking to get into music journalism. I barely know what to say to myself, but still believe there is importance despite everything that’s going on, which Bein talks about in this piece.
Why honesty haunts you - K-Pop: The Horror of NewJeans' "Ditto" Decoded - Allie of Kosi Coso delves deep into the Ditto music video. I have a lot of thoughts on what NewJeans is doing regarding meta narratives, and I’ve been doing a lot of reading on it so it was great to read a piece like this that lay everything out neatly.
Patrick St. Michel’s recent newsletter talked about Le Sserafim’s success in Japan, and touched on something I’ve been really wanting to write about, which is how IZ*ONE really is going to be a lot more foundational for K-pop in retrospect than it may have felt at the time.
What I’ve Been Listening to:
After last night’s Grammy’s upset for Album of the Year, I spent the morning listening to some of the newer artists spotlighted, namely Samara Joy, Latto, and Muni Long, none of whom I had given enough time to last year but am really happy that the award show at least gave me a reminder to give them each a chance. I honestly think award shows at this point are meant to disappoint, but they are great ways to discover new artists and see performances we can’t see elsewhere, like that standout 50 year of hip-hop one, which I think we’ll be talking about for a lifetime.
And I’m not listening to it, but I’ve been humming Lizzo’s Special all morning. It just feels like a song for Monday’s, especially after Lizzo spoke last night about how inspired she was by Beyoncé and how she wanted to make music to make others happy and inspired.
On the K-pop front of things, I also noticed this morning that I had missed the Korean release of STAYC’s Poppy that came out a few days ago ahead of the group’s upcoming Teddy Bear single. To be honest, I’m a bit disappointed. Some choices here just don’t have the same charm to me as the Japanese version, which is sad because Poppy was one of my absolute favorite songs of 2022, and it’d be cool to see the Korean version really take off as one of this year’s early K-pop viral hits. I don’t think the Korean version is bad, per say, it’s just different, which is Fine, but I’ll stick with the Japanese version.
Also spent the morning singing along to Seventeen’s unit BSS Fighting, which feels like it understands me and all other exhausted people everywhere.
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Appreciate the shout out Tamar! It’s always disappointing when people feel entitled to your time and expertise. So many people forget to express thanks nowadays. Nonetheless, I feel your twitter recording will help quite a few fledglings out there. Cheers!
I remember listening to the Twitter Space after the fact because I couldn't make it in real time. Glad to have Cliff Notes here. Looking forward to reading this in full and referencing it in the future!