Entertainment writers say don’t get starstruck

The next generation of wannabe entertainment gathered during the 2014 SEJC convention at UL Lafayette to hear advice from the pros of the entertainment field during the culture panel, discussing everything from why media are still vital for event success to friendships with the stars.

“The Culture Beat: Consumers Still Crave Entertainment” panel included Dominick Cross, an entertainment writer for The Daily Advertiser in Lafayette, and KRVS-FM “Zydeco Stomp” radio host Herman Fuselier, who is also the food and culture editor for The Daily Advertiser.

 “What we cover can be entertaining and hard news at the same time,” Fuselier said in response to a question posed by his boss, Cindy McCurry-Ross, editor of The Daily Advertiser who was in the audience.

When it comes to celebrities, Fuselier and Cross are no amateurs, and their advice about interacting with the A-list could help future journalists know where to draw the line between friendship and stardom.

 “You’re not one of them,” Cross said, using a movie he knew to reference handling celebrities. “You’re a reporter.  They’ll want you when they need you, but you’re not them.  Keep that in mind when you start interviewing stars.  They’re going to make you feel warm and fuzzy because that’s what they do.

“Get to know the people behind the stars, because those are the people who will get you access to the stars,” Fuselier added.  “Don’t forget about those people.”

With countless areas in entertainment, choosing one could be daunting to graduating college students, but Fuselier had advice for them.

 “Find your niche in the entertainment world, because it’s so broad, and there are so many things you can cover,” he said.  “When we tell people we cover entertainment, the first question is, ‘What stars do you know?’ A lot of stars come here, but we concentrate on the local artists.  You can help sell their stories.

 “That’s what I challenge you to do,” he continued.  “Find an area you’re really interested in, and that you think you can excel in, because as an entertainment person you’re going to cover everything from the circus to the symphony, but if there is something you can concentrate on and become known for, it’ll really help you a lot in the long run.”

Cross described how important it is to conduct research before going into any sort of interview so that the same dull questions won’t be asked for the umpteenth time.  He explained how knowing about an intended subject and digging into the celebrity’s past may turn up interesting tidbits that can be locally related even if it’s a big-time celeb.

 “Know your topic,” he emphasized.  “Come up with some good questions so you can try to have something different from what everyone else has done.  Like, ‘How long you been in music?’ There are certain things you just don’t need to ask.  Listen to the music, read some stories about them and then think about what you’d want to know, because what you want to know is what the reader wants to know.

 “That’s what you’re there for,” Cross continued.  “You’re the go-between.  You’re their messenger.”

Despite all the social media and digital technology, Fuselier stands by using the written word to spread a message.

 “We do so many other things now (referring to social media), but don’t forget about the written word,” Fuselier advised.  “The king’s English still counts when you can tell a story and communicate proper grammar and punctuation.  It goes a long way, and those writing skills can open other doors for you.  Along with the technology, you still have to be able to write.”