In yesterday’s JEA Digital Media post, journalism educator David Schwartz stressed the importance of creating a “living curriculum.” He provided examples of scholastic journalism programs that have adapted and professional organizations that have failed. He also discussed Starre Vartan, the well known problogger who illustrates a possible future for journalism.
After reading Schwartz’s post, I realized that high school journalism programs might not be prepared to highlight our successes, even when we have helped create influential journalists who have adapted. Arizona high school student Arin Segal is one of these examples. This upcoming year she will be a senior, and because of a schedule conflict, she will not be part of a school publication.
I met Arin at a recent JEA National Convention. I think Arin asked Ina Herlihy and me a few questions after our concert photography presentation in Anaheim. Recently, we have been discussing concert photography, interviews, and other things music/ technology related. I interviewed her about her website ATeenView. If you need inspiration, skip to the How It Began section.
Q: What is the topic of your website?
A: The site interviews talent across the entertainment industry in dance, TV & film, and music. It also includes a section devoted to concert photos.
Q: How did you get started?
A: In the spring of 7th grade when the Jonas Brothers were the stuff, I wanted to meet them and figured the only way was to interview them. I worked for the two years following reaching out to local media and trying to find someone to give me the chance. The summer before sophomore year I got the opportunity to speak with their opening act over the phone and when the magazine I was writing it for was talking about closing their online division I decided to start my own. From there I expanded from interviews to reviews and then to concert photography. Along the way I began writing for Broken Records Magazine and began work with azTeen, which I am now the Music editor of.
Q: What are some of the unique challenges you experience as a youth journalist? Do you ever feel like giving up?
A: Being 15 when I started, it was hard to get the respect that a “professional” journalist would have. I was lucky to get the break I did writing for an established magazine before going off on my own. Never did I think, ‘oh this isn’t worth it’ or that I wanted to quit because I always knew that after the slew of no’s I would finally get the ok from someone. Now I am given some opportunities to talk with talent my own age and show a different side of their story.
Q: How do you maintain professional standards, especially when you are often working next to experienced journalists?
A: I often send follow up emails, treat the people I meet as though they are just a normal friend and always have a smile on my face and business card in hand. I keep any negative opinions to myself and do my best to act like the professionals around me. When it comes to getting a picture with the band I politely ask the publicist prior to the interview when I get on site to make sure it is ok with them.
Q: When do you find that your age and inexperience works to your advantage?
A: Now that I have the catalogue of interviews and the select bands I have shot, it has become more difficult to pull the I’m still learning card, but I continuously use the fact that I don’t have an agenda and don’t care about someone’s personal life to help me. Most of the time my age and experience are not questioned until after the fact because of the viewership of the site and the level of talent I have started to speak with.
Q: What do you hope to accomplish?
A: I still always have the initial dream of a sit down with one or all of the Jonas Brothers no matter their level of fame. Beyond that I just want to become the best photographer and interviewer I can be. Each concert I attend and person I talk to help me grow in ways I can’t put into words or compare to any other experience.
Q: What do you do to gain access to events?
A: To gain access I normally go through a publicist or contact I have for an artist. Sometimes I go through an artist directly if they contact me via email or through my twitter. The biggest thing to come to terms with is that you will start small. Two years ago I would not have been given the opportunity to shoot Tim McGraw nor would I have gotten tickets. The best advice is to go to a local coffee shop or small venue and talk with the musician. The same applies for theater and even minor league sports. If you don’t know the person you are talking with now, that does not mean they won’t become a household name in the future. When I received a press release about Esperanza Spalding I had no idea who she was, but I took the opportunity and did an email interview. Six months to a year later she wins a Grammy. When starting out take every opportunity and hunt for even more. This answer got lengthy but to recap, start small and you never know where it will take you.
Q: What do you want to do in the near future?
A: On July 1st I relaunch my site, ateenview.com, with a more mature layout to reflect the growth I have had over the past year. I am busy with college applications while I simultaneously attend concerts, talk with talent all over the industry and manage my amazing group of azTeen music writers. I never know what the next day holds and can’t wait to see what happens this coming year.