The career of NME News Editor Paul Stokes began at his student magazine, and he has since spent many years in music reporting, working for prominent music magazines including Q and NME. So who better to tell us about a career in music journalism?
Stokes’ daily work is essentially based around “looking everywhere all the time.” This can include “borrowing” stories broken by rivals, reading official and unofficial blogs, as well as, “good old-fashioned reporting,” like overhearing things at gigs or talking to bands. It seems a quick check of the odd blog and the occasional gig will not suffice in this highly competitive industry.
Stokes emphasises this with his main advice to prospective journalists, to “write as much as you can,” thus developing a quick, well-articulated style that is appropriate for its audience. To maintain this he also stresses the importance of really loving music because, “you get found out very quickly if you don’t.” Stokes found the experience of working for his student magazine to be hugely valuable, despite first getting involved only for free promotional records! However his most valuable advice was to work for a publication with an unfamiliar audience first, as, “it’s easier to learn skills like word counts by writing for an audience you don’t know or understand.” Stokes cites a spell at the Insurance Times as useful for this reason. So you heard the man, get contributing! Email [email protected] for more information.