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Journalist Spotlight | Interview with Velvet Winter, Entertainment Reporter for the ABC

25 March, 2024

Today, Medianet is joined by ABC Entertainment Reporter, Velvet Winter. Velvet gives an insider look into what it’s like covering bands and artists to her earliest influences (real and fictional).


Velvet WinterWhat made you decide to pursue a journalism career and what are some misconceptions about your line of work?

As cliché as it is to say, when I was 13, I watched Almost Famous and decided I wanted to be William Miller. I subscribed to Rolling Stone and JMag (RIP) and put everything into being a music journalist. I always found writing pretty easy, to the point where I would much, much rather give you 1000 words than any photography of mine.

I think the biggest misconception is that there is one type of journalist, and they are the ones on TV and in newspapers. All I wanted to do in my early career was share my writing and the digital world was the most welcoming and accommodating place. When I was at uni, there was almost no digital journalism training, so all the experience I got was by contributing to online outlets separate from my studies which were all unpaid internships and contributor roles. Now, I’m so glad I stuck with them because I feel like it gave me a very valuable familiarity with digital journalism.

There are definitely downsides to digital news, but I think it’s giving a lot of writers the ability to be heard in a community which from the outside looks very closed off.


As a journalist for ABC Entertainment, which industry within the entertainment realm do you enjoy writing about the most?

Music and specifically the Australian music scene was my bread and butter for a very long time. And I do love writing about music. I think it’s absolutely amazing how it’s able to elicit emotions from people, I’m obsessed with the science and psychology behind it.

The psychology behind entertainment as a whole is pretty interesting to me. Fandoms fascinate me, how the tipping point of social media has created this whole new idea of celebrity and their relationship to fans. Really, I just like learning new things about our relationship with entertainment and telling people about it.


Are you a musician/performer yourself and which artists have influenced you the most?

Hahaha no, I wish. I did play saxophone for about 10 years, and I can handle the most basic drum lines but that is the extent of my musical talent. Part of the reason I got into music journalism is because I couldn't join bands!

I’m lucky that I grew up with a family that had pretty good music taste and they got me listening to stuff like Nick Cave, Eels and Radiohead.

But a band that has had tremendous influence on my writing is Son Lux. I’ve been a huge fan since I was 16 and heard them in an episode of American Horror Story lol. They’re a three-piece US band that has the more intensely cinematic sound for what is a rock act. So, it makes sense that they were the geniuses behind the music in Everything Everywhere All At Once. They were the first band since The Beatles to be nominated for the Best Original Score Oscar.

I made a long shot pitch to interview them before the 2023 ceremony and it somehow materialised. It was only supposed to be a 10-minute interview and they talked to me for 38 minutes. It was the first time in a long time that I was starstruck. And they’ve never toured Australia! Son Lux, if you’re reading this, please don’t make me go to the US. Come on, tour here!


What has been the most exciting/memorable experience of your career thus?

I’ve had the privilege of working in a lot of different roles in my career. In 2019 I was a digital reporter for The Feed on SBS, which was an amazing job in itself. But my music industry experience allowed me to bluff my way into convincing the EP to let me produce live music broadcast segments for the show. We got to film some amazing performances, but we also got sent to Splendour In The Grass to film.

It was very stressful but also a defining experience, being behind the scenes of a festival like that, especially for someone that was a volunteer picking up trash five years earlier. That’s probably as close I’ve come to a William Miller/Almost Famous moment, but you know, I still got a few more working years in me.

Unfortunately, due to all the festival-going in my youth, my bones are dust now and I simply cannot stand for a whole festival anymore.


Your writing has a more global scope. How do you report on events that happen in America or the UK? Do you find it frustrating that the entertainment/media industry is so US-centric?

The time difference, my god. It’s bad enough that I’m Brisbane-based so for six months of the year I’m perpetually terrified I’m going to be late/early to meetings. But when I have to convert AEST to PST or EST or anything on the other side of the world, you can guarantee I’m worried for 2-6 days beforehand that I’m going to get to the very important interview late. But there’s no way around it really. I do find it a bit frustrating but that’s literally just showbiz, baby.


Are there any upcoming projects of yours that we should be keeping an eye out for?

Not to be a nerd for work but I’m pretty psyched to be writing for ABC Entertainment.

I work with a lot of completely brilliant entertainment writers and I’m genuinely looking forward to writing and reading more thoughtful, purposeful entertainment reporting. Why just last week I got to publish the phrase “butthole-adjacent sandworms” on the national broadcaster. If that doesn’t make you excited for the future, then I don’t know what will.

(Yes, it was in reference to those terrible Dune II popcorn buckets)


And lastly, what do you look for in content pitching?

There is a super fine line between entertainment reporting and PR. I couldn’t write a straight promo piece even if I wanted to. But if you come to me with a story that makes you excited about the piece of content you’re offering, that’s something that I can and will be happy to work with!

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