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Interviewer Newsletter: April 2008

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Dear fellow AAJ interviewers,

With the number of interviews and interviewers on the rise, it seemed appropriate to create a periodic newsletter that addresses issues specific to interviews alone. The plan is to publish this Interviewer Newsletter quarterly, and if any of you have suggestions for issues you'd like to see covered, feel free to email us at jkelman@allaboutjazz.com.

  1. Catching Up on Revisions to Interview Guidelines
  2. Meet the Staff: New Editors
  3. A Few Reminders
  4. Ensuring Interviews/Profiles are Submitted in a Timely Fashion
  5. Information Required
  6. Looking for Ideas?
  7. Need Help?

Catching Up on Revisions to Interview Guidelines

For those of you who have been with AAJ for a while, you may not have seen changes made to the Submission Guidelines in general and Interview Guidelines in particular. Please take a few minutes to review them, as keeping up with revisions will not only make it easier for us during the editorial process, but for you as well, while preparing your interview or artist profile for submission.

Meet the Staff: New Editors

For nearly a year now, a newcomer to the AAJ editorial staff has been working in relative obscurity but in the most essential of ways, helping us out with prepping the ever-increasing influx of interviews and artist profiles. Meet Section Editor Brian Yordnoff.

We'd also like to introduce the more recently recruited Raul d'Gama Rose, a Senior Editor who is something of a "man about town," popping in and helping out any other Senior Editor in need of preparation assistance, at the same time taking on some specific areas of his own. When you receive your notification, telling you that your interview has been prepped and when it will be scheduled, you may find that it's Brian or Raul who has actually done the work. Thanks, guys!

A Few Reminders

With so many interviewers sending in more material than ever before, there are a few minor tips we'd ask you to keep in mind:

  • Interview or Artist Profile?: While there's no hard and fast rule, the general rule of thumb is if the interview transcript makes up less than 30% of the article text, then the piece should be submitted as an Artist Profile, otherwise submit it as an Interview;

  • Selected Discography: While editors have traditionally created Selected Discographies at the end of interviews when the author has not done so, we'd really like to encourage you to do it. Since it's your interview/profile, when readers are interested and want to check out some representative recordings it makes sense that these recommendations be yours, not ours. Details on formatting the selected discography can be found here.

  • Changes to HTML tags: We've begun using what is the proper standard tags for italicizing and bolding text. To italicize text, surround it with <em>these tags</em>, rather than the <i>old ones</i>. To bold text, use <strong>these tags</strong> instead of <b>these</b>. The old tags will continue to work, but please try to move towards using the new tags.

  • Adding Chapters to Your Interviews: You may have noticed that some of our longer interviews have chapters set up, with a chapter index at the start of the article. Here's a recent example. Chapters are especially useful in longer interviews that may be too much for a reader to digest in a single sitting. By providing index points throughout the piece, it's possible to pick up reading where they left off at another time.

    Interviews and profiles exceeding 3,000 words should be broken up into chapters. How many chapters is up to you, but try for a reasonable number that doesn't disrupt the flow too much, while providing enough navigable breakpoints to allow reader to easily take in the piece in multiple sittings.

    We don't expect you to have or learn the requisite HTML code to set things up. All we ask is for you to insert chapter titles at the appropriate places throughout the piece, placed in bold. When the editor sees these chapter names, they'll be used to set up the index and all requisite code.

  • Clearing Interviews Before Proceeding: With the growing number of interviewers, there's a greater possibility that two (or more) might want to interview the same subject. As per the guidelines, we treat requests on a first-come, first-served basis, so in order to prevent having a piece declined because it had already been assigned to someone else, please ensure you send us a quick email up front. You'll get your yay or nay within a day and, if yay, can then proceed as planned.

Ensuring Interviews/Profiles are Submitted in a Timely Fashion

It's essential to keep in mind that interviews and profiles provide their biggest impact when submitted on a timely basis, since they're often intended to coincide with a significant event such as a new tour or CD release.

To ensure that we don't lose site of this, we're introducing a new guideline, asking that all interviews and artist profiles be submitted no more than four weeks after the interview is conducted, preferably within two. This will let us prepare pieces and get them into the schedule so that the elapsed time between conducting an interview and publication will be no more than eight weeks.

Pieces written for AAJ newspapers and submitted for archiving at the website are not subject to this guideline, and we do understand that life sometimes throws a curveball, making it impossible, on rare occasion, to meet a deadline. If that happens, please contact us; flexibility is our middle name, but hearing from you will help us field any artists, labels or publicists looking for an update.

Information Required

In order to get a better handle on all the interviewers' specific capacities, tastes and approaches to handling solicitation of interviews, a brief questionnaire will be sent out to you shortly. Please take the very few minutes that it will take to complete, as it'll streamline the process of interaction with interview editors, making your life easier (and ours, too!).

Looking for Ideas?

While many of you contact us with ideas for interviews (and please, keep 'em coming!), some of you prefer to only pitch to us, while others are happy to have ideas passed their way. The Information Required questionnaire mentioned above will include asking whether or not you are open to unsolicited pitches, but in the meantime, if you're looking for some ideas, just contact us and we'll see what we can come up with that would be a good fit.

Need Help?

Many of you are completely self-sufficient when it comes to setting up, conducting and submitting interviews. But if, at any time, you require help—whether it's in obtaining materials required for the interview, dealing with artists, labels and/or publicists who aren't getting back to you, or anything else—don't hesitate to contact us, we're here to help!

We hope this new quarterly newsletter is worthwhile; your feedback will, of course, be appreciated if you feel like weighing in. Thanks for reading and keep those interviews and profiles comin'!

John Kelman and Mike Ricci.


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