SNN Newsroom

Music Reporting


with Rebecca Rankin
journalist on the show The Daily One., VH-1

Rebecca Rankin
(Note: Rebecca wrote this section for SNN while she was a host/videographer for "RapidFAX" at MuchMusic. In August 1999, she made the move to VH-1 , the American music channel, where she's a journalist on the show The Daily One.)

Wouldn't you just love to report on the latest CD by a top recording artist! Check out Rebecca's notes on being a reporter in the music industry.

MuchMusic has a pretty relaxed approach to the traditional rules of 'journalism' but that is not to say that we take our interviews any less seriously. In fact, the conversational style that we use to conduct interviews means that we actually have to know the subject matter -- and the subject --all that more thoroughly. That means that the who,what, when, where and how questions are often not enough. If an artist has a passion or outside interest, or even an adamant dislike for something, music reporters have to know about it because THAT is the information that makes for great interviews.

All that said, it can be difficult to read into an artist or a group if your students only have CD and biography in front of them. Other press interviews are good to read but never fall into the trap of stealing other people's questions.

Instead, your students research should be based around trying to think about what the audience would really be interested in and that means staying away from the obvious.


Here is a short list of how I would prepare for an interview:
Teachers can use this list to help their students report on music.

1. Students should listen to the cd and read the lyrics in the liner notes if they are available.
Liner notes offer amazing insight into artists: Who do they thank? Do the lyrics make sense or do they just use words that happen to rhyme? What art work or pictures do they use? Who produced the album? And who actually wrote the songs? They should pay particular attention to guest appearances. For example, if Oasis lists another artist on one of the songs, students can bet they have a bit of a relationship and that is interesting.

2.Take a look at other press that they've done and tv interviews.
Students shouldn't take this too seriously because people act differently with every interviewer and every day is different.

3.Write down some stock questions -- basic obvious ones.
Students can then come up with two or three things that are a little different. Stock questions are ones that they could ask basically anyone and ones that are out of the ordinary are ones that students want to know after doing their research.

4.Always look at the videos (past and present)
Your students should check past and present videos of the artists you're interested in and who directed them. Perhaps the artist directed the videos themselves and that opens up a whole other can of worms.

When interviewing a performer (local or national) students should be prepared to let the artist go off on a tangent and even encourage it if they get on to an interesting topic. This is becomes a little tricky because the audience wants to know what they think not the reporter. So student reporters can do lots of nodding but try not to talk over them.

6.Finally, relax.
Student should remember to just have a conversation with the artist. They don't need to kiss up to the artist but try not to offend them either. If they like the student, great. If they don't, it always makes for good tv, so a reporter really can't go wrong.

I can testify that journalism is a really rewarding career if a student is a curious person. I've always been very interested in others people especially if they have a reputation for being difficult -what made them this way anyway?!

See ya,

Rebecca Rankin

Back to Covering a Beat
About us SNN in the classroom SNN Newsroom Monthly edition Home bottom bar