It's only rock 'n' roll
But journalist instructor likes it
Linda White, Special to QMI Agency
Veteran arts and entertainment journalist Errol Nazareth is also an instructor at Centennial College. He is pictured here in a 2001 interview with Quincy Jones. — Greg Henkenhaf/Toronto Sun
In a career that has spanned the better part of two decades, arts and entertainment journalist Errol Nazareth has profiled music legends like Quincy Jones, Harry Belafonte and Roberta Flack. While the list is impressive, he’s most proud of his reputation for conducting thought-provoking interviews.
Indeed, most interviews end with the artist complimenting Nazareth for “one of their best interviews ever” and for asking questions they’ve never been asked before, he reports. The key is doing your research, he advises.
“Be respectful of your subject; be sincere, honest and humble. Go in with the right questions and you’ll get great quotes and a great story. One thing I like to share with people is that it is possible to write cliché-free music articles.”
Those are among the lessons Nazareth will share in an introductory arts and entertainment journalism course first offered through Centennial College’s continuing education department in 2007 and returning this winter. “The course won’t be super academic — after all, it’s only rock ’n’ roll,” he says.
A graduate of Centennial’s print journalism program, Nazareth credits its focus on straight news and feature writing with giving him a strong foundation. But his love of music gave his career direction. “I was among a group of journalism students who liked music. We didn’t learn how to write things like CD reviews … We fell into it by default.”
His first gig after graduating was as entertainment editor of a community newspaper. A 10-year stint with the Toronto Sun as music columnist and general assignment news reporter helped Nazareth develop his voice and reputation. Along the way, he contributed to several CBC Radio flagship shows, including Definitely Not The Opera.
He currently writes a weekly music column for the Toronto Sun that focuses on local talent and teaches journalism at his alma mater. He designed the introductory program, filling it with practical lessons he learned on the job.
“I specialize in profiles. I like getting into people’s heads and finding out things like what makes them write a certain lyric or piece of music or why someone would throw their weight behind an organization like the Music Therapy Centre.
“I’ve always had a social conscience in my writing … that’s something you can’t do with straight news because it has to be very objective. With (arts and entertainment journalism), if you have a passion for a certain kind of music or theatre or books or film, there’s nothing stopping you from learning more about it and pursuing it.”
Graduates of Centennial College’s arts and entertainment journalism course in Toronto will understand the challenges faced by arts journalists and how to overcome them. The 10-week course, offered through continuing education, will also teach them how to write witty, well-organized features and reviews. It begins in February.
An advanced-level course designed to help students polish the techniques learned in the introductory program will be offered this summer. Assignments will include TV, film and theatre reviews, screenings and shadowing a music/film/theatre critic for a day.
Learn more at www.centennialcollege.ca.