Pop and Precision: Writing as a Music Journalist Katherine Gilliam's internship experience at Mxdwn
December 17, 2022
My name is Katherine Gilliam, and I am currently a senior at Chapman University pursuing a double major in Communication Studies and English Language and Literature. During the Fall 2022 semester, I completed an internship with Mxdwn, which I found on Handshake. Mxdwn is an online news publication that disseminates information about the latest happenings in various popular culture mediums, such as movies, music, and television. During my time with the company, I worked as a late night news writer in the music department.
As a late night news writer, my primary responsibilities included writing five or six articles of about 300-400 words each, usually about specific artists’ upcoming albums, newly-released singles, or recently-announced tour dates for an upcoming North American run. Every Tuesday and Sunday night, members of the music marketing team would send me five or six prompts, paired with relevant news articles or press releases, from which I would have to develop a short blurb based on the given information, though sometimes I would also have to do outside research. My articles would then be formatted using WordPress and published on Mxdwn’s official website. The company’s social media managers would later push the reports to a larger audience on Apple News.
My main initial struggle with this internship was learning how to write in a way that was concise yet engaging or stimulating enough for readers. I needed to keep my sentences short and disperse my basic message clearly and quickly before the readers grew bored. As a double major in Communication Studies and English Language and Literature, my approach toward writing greatly differed based on the subject of the class I was taking. This made it difficult to find that perfect middle ground between thoroughness and concision without forsaking clarity or efficiency when completing assignments. When writing essays for English, I would often expand upon and reiterate my point so many times to the point of near repetition, all while I was under the guise that I was only being thorough. However, my communication classes ask for consistent brevity, which became a learned characteristic that provided me with a better foundation upon which I started my internship. For example, when I took Com 314: Communication Theory with Rikishi Rey last year, I was asked to write a 4–5-page paper about the various limitations of cognitive dissonance theory. However, I misunderstood the prompt and wrote five pages about a single limitation. I promptly received a 70 on the essay but was kindly allowed to redo my paper — though I did struggle to fit all my thoughts about every limitation within the page limit. After this encounter, I finally learned how important it was to be concise, not just to save my grades but also to regain control over my language and the words I use. This class helped me complete this internship well by teaching me how to condense information into a relatively small amount of space, though it was still not easy for me to do.
Working as a music journalist at Mxdwn fully cemented my understanding of how to incorporate precision into my writing, though I do sometimes still struggle with shifting gears between writing for an English class versus a communication class. This internship immensely helped me by forcing me to keep my writing between 300 and 400 words. I learned how to look through my writing and distinguish which information is essential to get my point across and what information can be filtered out. By practicing this restraint habitually twice a week for the last few months during this internship, I hope to have developed a habit of precision and clarity that I can carry over into my later classes and my future career.
Featured image credit: Christian Bohr via Wikipedia Commons