Photo Credited to: AJC.Com & Jimblackman.com
Infamous music critic and feature writer, Melissa Ruggieri has made a name for herself in the entertainment and writing industry. She has interviewed many celebrities from John Boyega (Starred as Finn in the Star Wars), Warren Beatty (Stars in Rules Don’t Apply), Norah Jones, Stevie Nicks, and many more. Even she couldn’t get a sign stating she was part of the print crawl at the Country Music Awards. She says in a joking manner, “This is where 20 years in the business get you, no respect, no one cares.”
It is no secret that during the history of news media: journalists, reporters, and other media professionals usually get the bad end of the stick. On the contrary, media serves as the watchdog and medium for the public. If media were to never exist, then how would the public get their news? The real question left to ask is why do people give media such a hard time? Many bother to ask that question and never truly receive a definite answer. In order to work in the media, then one must have tough skin and an eagerness to work. However, the many hurdles that journalists, reporters, music critics, and others must face can become overwhelming.
Ruggieri explains her experience she has in the media profession and gives a few insightful tips to journalism students. She explains that it is important to make contacts and network with different people. “Even if it’s a job you don’t want to take, you never whose card you going to get, whose twitter you get, you want to make connections with people.” Constructive criticism is going to be apart of the media profession and one has to have tough skin, is quite cliche, but according to Ruggieri it’s essential. She gives an example of how she wrote a music review and ended up writing a better piece, because of the constructive criticism she received back from her mentor. She quotes, “The review I wrote last night on Stevie Nicks and the Pretenders, since Deb went with me, I did send it to her at two o’clock in the morning saying hey can you read this for me. She read it and had a better word choice. I’m not like oh I don’t like that I want it my way, I’m like no, she’s right.” Not only does one deal with the pressures of deadlines, making sure all dates and facts are correct, but it’s important to be able to withstand critique.
Ruggieri talks about her first opportunity at as a music critic/reporter and her gratitude towards her mentor Deb. She graduated with her bachelor’s degree in journalism from Florida International University, but before she became an alumni, she worked in the library. “ I was working in the library as a clerk. I took the job because it got me an introduction, but I also use to read the pop music critic who was the columnist for the Sun Sentinel and she was the person I wanted to emulate.” Ruggieri goes on to further explain how she continued to work in the library, until she got the courage to walk up to her future mentor Deb’s desk. “ I introduced myself and she was very kind and asked me what I wanted to do and I said I want to be you.” From then on, she went to concerts with her mentor and shadowed her around for some years and Ruggieri says it really immersed her in the world. “I got to meet promoters, I got to meet artists, I got to go to venues and how that whole thing works. I’m very fortunate to have found a mentor”, she says. Her big break happened during unfortunate circumstances, her mentor’s child became ill. However, Ruggieri was given the task to continue doing her mentor’s work in the meantime. She’s goes onto say that is not easy to become a music reporter and there is only between 40-50 nationwide. “Call it luck”, she says.
Ruggieri has been blessed with many opportunities of travelling the world and meeting profound musicians. She currently works with Atlanta Journal Constitution.