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An Interview With Freelance Journalist, Maria Sherman: The Journalist We Need, But Don’t Deserve

Photo credit to Kate Killet

Maria Sherman is a freelance journalist, known to the world for her articles critiquing Katy Perry’s feminism and calling out “The Bachelor” for its facade of diversity. She has written for Rolling Stone, MTV, Complex, NYLON, Glamour, PaperMag, and Alternative Press. But apart from her journalism, she can often be found tweeting knuckle tattoo ideas to her followers.

Sherman’s work spans from writing about pressing matters (like which former boy band member will thrive under the spotlight) to how bands choose to deliver messages to audiences and how she decides to, in her own words, “unpack” them. Her writing is inspirational, not only because of the daring topics she tackles, but also because she never shies away from expressing herself unapologetically. Sherman delivers her raw self in everything she does, especially when it comes to writing about one of her favorite peopleHarry Styles.

The life of a freelancer, however, isn’t always as glamorous as it seems:

“There are obvious advantages to working at a specific publication,” Sherman said. Primarily the advantages include “being financial stability and job benefits. While those are very real concerns of mine, freelance work has made me the happiest. However, the first time I pursued full-time freelance work was after a brief stint at BuzzFeed immediately after college and it was near impossible.”

“I think to freelance, and to freelance well, you have to have established relationships with a myriad of people and publications. It’s not really something you can enter into blindly and I wish I knew that the first time around. I failed, and failed hard.”

Sherman proclaims the current era of journalism has allowed her to openly express herself. But with this revolution of digital media comes a profoundly divisive audience: some challenge almost of her work while others praise her for her articles. However, her pieces are almost always popular and well-liked because her audience shares the values Sherman embodiescompassion and acceptance.

“I’m lucky to have come up at a time where young writers are finding an identity to be foundational in a lot of writing about culture and music. As a young Latina, a lot of my politics veer towards social justice and activism. Music is my biggest passion, but there’s such a benefit in being able to explore topics outside of it.”

In terms of viewing herself and her work as an inspirational footwork, Sherman hands it all to the people who keep her writing and in workthe artists, bands, and music groups.

“Most of my work—especially the music stuff—does not exist without the art that inspired me to write in the first place.”

Outside of freelancing, Sherman is still unapologetically herself in nearly everything she does. The party doesn’t stop with those knuckle tattoo ideas because she’s also a diehard Directioner (even after their heart-breaking split in 2016). She’s not afraid to write about what everyone is thinking about: like Zayn Malik’s 10 Steamiest Instagram MomentsShe tries to uproot the idea that fans should remain quiet after a band member assaults several fans. And most importantly, she highlights how certain bands have come together to create Bands Take A Stand, which combats sexual assault and urges bands to donate their Bandcamp earnings to A Voice For The Innocent.

Photo used with permission from Maria Sherman

Sherman is idolized (especially by me) for interviewing bands that are self-aware of certain ideologies concerning their gender. Her interview with Pissed Jeans, a band hailing from Pennsylvania, easily comes to mind as a favorite piece of mine. While Pissed Jean’s album Why Love Now already challenges the stereotypes of masculinity in and of itself, Sherman further brings light to the subject, giving the band, and others like it, a well-deserved platform.

“I would never randomly assign them a certain social responsibility and ideology in an article. I do it only when it warrants it. Masculinity and its pitfalls are at the heart of Pissed Jeans, so I chose to unpack it.”

Sherman, in a world that’s seemingly anti-female, is dominating the platforms where women receive incredible backlash.

“I’d say I don’t view myself as an influential person, per say, but I’ve done some work that has had real resonance, even in tiny ways to a handful of people.” 

The male-dominated world of music reviews is actively being challenged by a Puerto Rican woman. Sherman reminds us that professional journalism shouldn’t come with barriers that limit our voices: the best journalism often contains heart and passion—two things Sherman has a lot of.

Quotes have been edited slightly for clarity.

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Lorena is an eighteen year old from California. She aspires to be a music + culture journalist and heavily idolizes Maria Sherman. She hopes to one day be influential in her desired career field and be able to make music as well.