Monday, February 25, 2013

Lillian Ross: Tips On Writing

By Alyssa Hamilton 

The essay that Lillian Ross has written on writing is very interesting and raises some points worth exploring. I do agree that each writer is different just as each human being is different from one another, and I don’t think that people realize this when they read news-writing because, while it can be easy to differentiate between the styles of poets, it isn’t as easy to discern which reporter has written a news-piece.

She makes an interesting point that “a reporter is always chemically involved in a story.” When you think about it, it’s very true, since without the reporter, the story would not exist as it does because of the angle the reporter has chosen to take on a story.

I also agree that a reporter can’t tell readers how a subject feels aside from quoting or describing actions because it’s not a reporter’s place to place an emotional spin on things. I agree that reporters must be straightforward because that is how readers will understand their article, which is very important.

However, I disagree that you can only write about what interests you and can’t write about anyone that you don’t like. While she may be able to afford this luxury, not everybody can, and you have to be able to bite the bullet and just write about whatever is assigned to you, trying to find something interesting or likeable about your subject. It may be desirable to write about only things you like, but this isn’t reality for many people.

She brings up an interesting point when she wrote that “just because someone ‘said it’ is no reason for me to use it.” She recognizes that her subjects are trusting her when she writes a piece about them, and to just publish something for controversy instead of an accurate depiction would ruin the relationship a reporter has with their subject.

I disagree that you shouldn’t take an assignment for financial reasons. Money is still important when you’re trying to make a living, not something to be ignored for the sake of your own conscience. If your job is to report the news in an unbiased way, then that is your assignment; it’s not like you’re being asked to support something that you find morally objectionable. Another thing that she wrote that doesn’t sit well with me is that “literal reality rarely rings true.” What is literal hasn’t been distorted, so that is reality at its purest. I do understand that people sometimes put on a front when being recorded out of nervousness, but that isn’t reality. I do agree, however, that listening to your subject is most important because that is where your story comes from. To actually listen to your subject, and not simply hear, to actively engage is important because that is what interviewing is about.

Overall, Lillian Ross’s piece is valuable because it brings many points to the table, both correct and open to discussion, and because of this, is a good tool in teaching beginner journalists how to treat their work.

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