Old Forward Hand Keeps Rolling Along

By Gabriel Sanders

Published February 02, 2007, issue of February 02, 2007.

Don’t let anyone tell you that an internship at the Forward isn’t a springboard to the big time. Just ask Mordechai Shinefield: He’s in the running for a plum gig at Rolling Stone.

As a companion to the MTV reality series “I’m From Rolling Stone,” on which six hungry writers are vying for a yearlong contributing editor’s slot at the iconic music magazine, Rollingstone.com is running a contest of its own — top prize: a three-month writing contract and a new laptop computer — and, after the competition’s first three rounds, Shinefield, 22, is a frontrunner.

In the contest’s first challenge, entrants were asked to describe their local music scene in 300 words or less. Shinefield, who interned at the Forward in the summer of 2005, turned the assignment on its head. “I really don’t think there’s any such thing as a local music scene anymore, especially in New York,” the Yeshiva University junior said. Instead, he wrote about his Washington Heights apartment building and the music he hears coming through the walls.

The judges loved it. “This pops with culture-clash energy,” Rolling Stone executive editor Joe Levy said of Shinefield’s twist on the task. Shinefield edged out a field of more than 500 and snared first place. His prizes were a brand-new First Act electric guitar and a Rhapsody Sansa MP3 player.

Mordy, as he was known in these parts, didn’t win in rounds two and three (in which contests had to come up with 10 interview questions for the artist of their choice and write a concert review, respectively), but he was a finalist both times. The grand-prize winner will be the writer who does the best over the course of the entire competition.

Shinefield, whose writing has appeared in New York Press, The Village Voice and The New York Sun, is thrilled by the prospect of landing a gig at Rolling Stone (“Working there would definitely be a dream job,” he said), and he’s mindful that he’s making history (“This is probably the first time that Y.U. and Rolling Stone’s paths have crossed”), but ultimately he has steeled himself for the possibility that the magazine may not come a-knockin’.

“Who knows,” he said, not unhappily, “maybe I’ll end up back at the Forward.”



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