1. Jen Zoratti
2. Sheldon Birnie / Jared Story (tie)
3. Bartley Kives
Jen Zoratti recognized her passion for music writing as a teen while co-hosting a radio show with her best friend at Kelvin High School.
“It was broadcasted within the school and so basically it was to the cafeteria. And sometimes people would just unplug the speaker, so it went nowhere,” Zoratti says.
At her high school guidance counsellor’s suggestion, she applied to Red River College’s Creative Communications program hoping to learn more about journalism and broadcasting. She graduated from RRC in 2006 and has been working non-stop in print media ever since.
“I would just email every Canadian music editor, hound them until they were like, ‘OK, you’re annoying. Here’s something,” she says.
After nearly 10 years as a music writer, Zoratti, 30, transitioned to a columnist role at the Winnipeg Free Press in January.
It’s a whole new challenge she’s still adjusting to, but the move helped reignite her passion for music.
“When it becomes work and it becomes your job, you find yourself falling out of love with it,” Zoratti says. “It’s been really nice over the last 10 months to sort of reconnect with being a fan.”
“I also wanted to try something else because I felt like really shaking things up is how you become a better writer,” she continues. “I think it’s important to write as much as you can in as many different areas as possible.”
Being recognized by Uniter readers is reassuring, Zoratti says. She’s seen many writers – including herself – struggle with self-doubt.
“I think sometimes, particularly for women writers, there’s just sort of that tendency toward imposter syndrome. You know, when you are doing well in your field to sort of have that, ‘oh my God, someone’s going to tap me on the shoulder and tell me that I don’t belong here’ (moment),” Zoratti says.
“It’s nice when you can sort of break through that and just have confidence in your ideas… that they’re connecting with readers and that you’re telling stories that are resonating with people.”