Annabel Ross is a freelance journalist whose writing is mainly focused on music and culture. She has written for the likes of GQ, Vice, Rolling Stone Australia, Resident Advisor, Mix Mag and The Guardian Annabel caught up with Clara Löffler to share her journey and experience of becoming a music journalist.
Attack: How did you become a music journalist?
I started writing about music for trade magazines as a teenager in Melbourne, where I grew up. After completing my arts degree, I worked in London as a copywriter for a year but really wanted to get into journalism, so I went back to university in Melbourne to do my postgrad in Media and Communications. Then, in 2008 I got an internship at The Age newspaper. I eventually became an “arts and entertainment” reporter there, which included a lot of writing about music.
When I moved to Paris in 2017, I started to do a lot more writing for electronic music publications. I’m now in New York and still writing mostly about electronic music.
Is it more difficult to be a woman than a male writer in this industry and why?
Less so these days. I think things have changed a lot in the past few years, fortunately. There are still far more men than women writers but I don’t think it’s as hard to be taken seriously in comparison to the past. Plus, it’s harder for people in power to get away with sexist behaviour nowadays.
It always helps to have more women in senior positions, especially as editors. They tend to be more inclined to look for and support women writers and welcome a non-male perspective
Have there been sexist incidents (with DJs, colleagues etc)?
I’ve had DJs and producers act surprised when I’ve asked intelligent questions as if they weren’t expecting me to know what I was talking about. I don’t think men journalists would get that kind of reaction. Once you’ve proven yourself, you tend to get a little more respect. For a long time, many weren’t publications weren’t interested in covering sexism, harassment and assault in music, but fortunately, that’s not the case anymore.
Do you as a woman feel responsible for covering more female DJs/producers?
I don’t feel responsible for it per se, but I do think I’m much more likely to be conscious of it in comparison to a lot of men. I make an effort to seek out and support non-male talent as much as I can.
Do you have any tips for aspiring female music journalists?
Work hard, read widely, and be persistent. If you haven’t been published before, try writing for smaller blogs first, or create your own blog for building your portfolio, then aim for bigger publications. Similarly, don’t expect to be paid much initially, but as you get more experience, don’t be afraid to ask for more money. The worst people can say is “No”, and if you don’t ask, you don’t get, as my dad likes to say.
Amplifying non-white voices is super important too. We need to put more Black and POC women in positions of power in the media.
What can be done to improve the situation for female music journalists in general?
I think that the situation’s not too bad these days, but it always helps to have more women in senior positions, especially as editors. They tend to be more inclined to look for and support women writers and welcome a non-male perspective. Amplifying non-white voices is super important too. We need to put more Black and POC women in positions of power in the media.
Follow Annabel Ross on Twitter.
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