Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Lillian Ross' Guidelines

By Cinterra Lucas 

"Letter from Lillian Ross” was an insightful piece of writing that allowed me to learn a lot about her and myself as a journalist. Throughout this piece, Lillian described some of her do’s and don’ts as well as her preferences. In the first paragraph, she mentioned the phrase “fly on the wall” was used to describe the actions of a journalist. However, the phrase “fly on the wall” is a cliché and the phrase does not really describe the actions of journalists. I agree with Lillian, anyone who uses this term is “misguided” because a journalist is not a fly on a wall, a journalist is always present and everything that a journalist writes down is based on what they were told and not because they were being “a fly on the wall.”

Lillian went on further to explain her style of writing, which gave me some insight and assistance for my writing in the future. When Lillian writes her stories she follows a set of guidelines, which is what I found interesting because when I write I create an outline to help me maintain focus in what I am writing. Lillian uses guidelines as a set of rules for herself to follow when writing about others. When writing, Lillian wants to be simple and straightforward, which is something I can understand; no one wants to lose the reader’s attention. In order to prevent biased writing and a biased interview Lillian does not write about individuals she does not like, and that is something I would not do as well.

Lillian’s writing is based what occurs during her first encounter with a person; she believes just like anyone else that first impressions are what last longer and in some cases I can agree with her. When I meet someone, whether it be in general or for my writing, I will do my best to make sure I leave a good impression. Lillian also allowed me to understand that once a person admits you into their life to write about them you truly have to make it your responsibility to portray them through your writing in a good way. Sometimes individuals may pour their heart out to you in an interview and sometimes that is just because they are attached to you; it is up to you to make an ethical decision to decide whether you want to put what you encountered in your writing or not.

Many journalists have their own style of writing and based on what Lillian expressed it is best for you to define yourself as a journalist. This simply means try to find what best fits you as an individual and grow from that. I personally like to use a recorder when interviewing someone; however, it does have its advantages and disadvantages, as Lillian wrote. Lillian’s guidelines are beneficial to up and coming journalists like myself.

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