By Colleen Pagnani
As a reporter for The New Yorker, Lillian Ross always focused on stories she found interesting. To editors, Ross had a very unique style of reporting and writing. In her mind a reporter should always be “chemically involved” in writing a story, the total opposite of a “fly on the wall.” Without being heard or seen, Ross believed reporters had no shot of writing a successful piece. And just like in story writing, Ross thought that the most effective way to get her point across would be to include a beginning, middle, and an end.
I learned a lot regarding the topic of reporting from reading Ross’ letter. There were a lot of ideas I agreed with, but also some that I did not. I agreed with the idea that reporters should keep their stories short and sweet and to the point. However, I could potentially argue the idea that reporters should only choose to cover stories that are appealing to them. In my opinion, a reporter’s job is to cover any lead that requires attention, instead of ignoring the ones they do not like. Of course writing about something non-interesting to the reporter can hurt the final story, but it is part of their job and one should be prepared either way. A very important, yet forgotten fact that I also agree with, involves ‘listening’ and how it is the most important action in being a reporter.
As a whole, I agreed with Ross and her style of reporting. She knew that keeping things simple, and letting her mind do all the work, was the most effective way to write. That is the reason she was a successful journalist. I also learned that as long as you believe in what you are writing about, you are bound to write an article worth reading, whether you agree with the topic or not. And, in the end, none of this could be possible if she acted like a “fly on the wall.”