January 15, 2007

Tracking Rolling Stone's Reality TV Show

Preeminent music magazine Rolling Stone is now two weeks into their MTV-partnered reality series "I'm From Rolling Stone," and I must say it's been a good trip so far. My primary interest rests in the journalistic aspects of the program, as I temper my jealousy at the opportunity these all-too-pretty aspiring writers have been given with genuine interest in learning from their experience. While I don't want to go in depth about the characters (nothing personal, I would just rather focus on the assignments and the writing) I gotta talk about how ludicrous (not the rapper) it is to being playing 'hotshot' with this kind of role. C'mon people, you're given a literally once in a lifetime chance (as opposed to those pseudo once in a lifetimes) yet you're not above acting arrogant, lazy, and undisciplined? It really makes you want to get in there and do their job for them, and considerably better than their churlish efforts so far. Here is to hoping, for the sake of the show as well as the respect I have for the magazine, that the quality of the contestants gets a whole lot better. Hey, they're just starting out, I am willing to cut them some slack...for now.

As for the journalistic aspects, I must say it's wickedly cool to hear Joe Levy, executive editor, dishing out his charges and observations, along with a slew of other senior brass at the magazine. There are little (and not so little) things you can pick up about the world of pop culture writing, such as:

- The importance of getting material facts and substance over sugaring your piece
- Not burying your 'lead'
- The dangers of excess prose
- The vitality of having a clear and concise focus
- The need to actually articulate the sound and feel of the music
- Not overusing clich├ęs
- The value of properly preparing for interviews (checking the recorder, writing out questions beforehand, directing the flow, being confident, getting concrete information)

Not that I pretend to be a masterful editor, as many of these things I picked up right from the RS website, but they are invaluable nonetheless as I embark on my mission to be a prominent reporter and writer in my own right. I'll amend this list and add comments as the show goes on. I think it will prove to be a remarkably educational exercise in what you can learn from reality television. Particularly when that television features (albeit sporadically) some of the finest journalists on the planet.

To be continued...

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