Hip Hop Journalism the Truth & Tonic

So you want to write for XXL, Vibe magazine, or Allhiphop.com.  What does that look like?  How do you break into the field?  Will you be able to earn a living?  To help you make an informed decision about the urban journalism career path, YBM reached out to Starrene Rhett (“Starr”) an established freelance journalist from Harlem, New York.

What’s the Big Deal?:
Starr is a freelance journalist who has written for all of your favorite magazines, including Honey Magazine, Vibe, Vibe Vixen, Allhiphop.com, Hiphopdx.com, BET, and more.   Now, in addition to being a key contributor for your favorite publications, she is adding more flavour to the scene with her personal blog Gangstarrgirl.Gangstarr Girl

The Road to Now:
Internships, part-time gigs, and freelance writing.

Big Break:
Starr was tracked down by the editor of Hiphopdx.com on Myspace.   Turns out he had seen several freelance articles Starr submitted for Allhiphop.com, and wanted to recruit her for the Hiphopdx.com team.

Advice:
Always stay true to you and keep integrity in your work. Network, network, network. “Every job I’ve had has been from a referral or someone who knew me.”

Scoop on Urban Journalism:
It’s not easy.  In college, don’t be surprised if your professors refer to urban journalism as “fluff.”  Their focus more likely then not will be on making you into an investigative journalist.  But don’t despair, you will learn the fundamentals, and those tools will empower you in your urban journalism career.

Magazine editors  at times tend to look down on web editors, but consider it a classic case of old school versus new school.  The truth as it relates to urban publications, is that as the web continues to grow magazines are becoming more like blogs.  You’ve probably noticed that publications are copying one another; Google readers are filled with recycled stories, and everyone seems to be on the gossip and sensationalism tip.  What does it all mean?

Starr shared with YBM that “there was a time when people knew specific writers by name and could pull up stores by that journalist.”  However, today that is not the case.  Given the current state of urban journalism, consider now the prime time to enter and make your mark.  One way to make your mark is to focus on creating quality researched stories that educate readers or offer constructive insight.  Don’t let advertising dollars suck you into writing purely about gossip and sensationalism.

Take Action:
If you are loving the info in this article share it.  If you’d be interested in attending a journalism forum with a panel of urban journalists, leave a comment or email to let us know.  Be empowered, be fearless, be you!

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3 thoughts on “Hip Hop Journalism the Truth & Tonic

  1. YBM Staff

    Thanks for your interest! We’re working on setting up a panel in L.A. for this coming January. We’ll send updates out to the mailing list closer to that time.

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