Arts and Entertainment


The arts and entertainment section, pages A4 and A5, houses the Messenger’s arts and culture coverage. Most of the time, that means reviews – of concerts, plays, musicals, dance performances, and whatever else goes on the St. Olaf stages. Writing a review is a little different than typical news writing. If you’re working on an A&E story, remember to…


Be descriptive. When you write about art, you have the opportunity to make the story come alive for the reader. Use vivid imagery and strong language – but don’t be tacky.

Use “you” sparingly. A lot of A&E writers are tempted to walk the reader through the performance, using phrases like “when you sit down in your seat,” “when you left the theater,” etc. While that’s occasionally OK, try not to write the entire review in second person. It’s about what you thought as the writer, so stick with first and third person writing.

Be critical. Don’t write as if for the St. Olaf website or for an admissions brochure. You can criticise a performance. It’s OK. In fact, it makes the review much more interesting and worthwhile if you’re honest. That’s the purpose of a review.

Avoid jargon. Our readers don’t understand complex music terminology, so either don’t use it or explain it clearly.

Don’t qualify your own experience. The purpose of writing a review is to express what you thought about the performance. You don’t need to include disclaimers that note that others may have felt differently. The reader already knows that, and making those disclaimers waters down your writing and makes the article less impactful.  



For further guidance, check out these stellar reviews published in previous issues of the Manitou Messenger.

Questions? Email Chaz and Kailey at or stop by the Mess office

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