Like music? Like getting into shows for free? Like being a major source of anger, frustration, disappointment, shame, even hatred for thousands of people you don’t even know? Then the Dallas Observer wants to hear from you. The 20-plus-year-old alt-weekly is looking for a new music editor –– Pete Freedman is stepping down “to pursue other opportunities,” whatever that means. In a help-wanted ad, the Observer says, “The ideal candidate has a strong writing voice, sharp line-editing skills, a wide range of musical interests, and a passion for the local music scene. Responsibilities include: overseeing DC9 at Night, our music blog; maintaining our strong presence in social media; and assigning, writing for, and editing the print music section.” In other words, you’ll be swamped.
The company that owns the Observer (and nearly two dozen other alt-weeklies across the country) is Village Voice Media (formerly New Times), a company for which I worked as both a full-time staffer and freelancer. VVM, based on my experiences, is pretty corporate: Writers must fulfill quotas of stories per month/year, which may not really be as unreasonable as you may think, considering that most journalists think of themselves as artistes rather than what they are: craftsman not unlike carpenters, assembling structures (stories) out of solid materials from nature (facts, arguments). My point is that if you think you’ll be able to go to shows every night and show up to work at noon the next day, smelling like smokes and booze, you should not apply.
Which leads me to another point: A love of music is immaterial. If you can’t write, you’re useless, no matter how exquisite/esoteric your tastes may be, and knowing how to type and having read some Chuck Klosterman *gag* does not mean you’re even close to being a professional-caliber writer/critic/journalist. Very few people are as conversant in journalism as in music –– Ken Shimamoto, Jeff Prince, Eric Griffey, and Steve Steward are four biathletes who come readily to mind. And say what you will, but VVM/New Times writers are pretty damn good (see: Observer staff, including Freedman). If you don’t have an A writing game, don’t bother applying.