Sunday, February 23, 2014

Understanding Style: A Look at Lillian Ross and Ross Markman

By Nikki Zaidan

One of the wonderful things about writing is there are so many approaches to understanding a subject or writing a story. Depending on the medium of writing - be it a novel or newspaper article - writers differ in their style and approach.

Lillian Ross, who wrote for The New Yorker, tried to focus on her subjects and the small details about them in order to “really [reveal] the person.” She wrote a profile about Ernest Hemingway, and added details about how he spoke in “broken” sentences; by doing this, people were able to see Hemingway in a different light. Lillian Ross worked for decades at The New Yorker, and in this time she found her style as a writer. She took a lot of time to interview and write about her subjects because she wanted to fully understand them.

Ross Markman, on the other hand, wrote for Havre Daily News in Montana, and since he covered many areas in the newspaper, he had to learn to write quickly and efficiently. He was responsible for writing about his city and county government in Montana, as well as about local schools, and oftentimes wrote at least 10 articles per week.

Like Ross, Markman did research on his stories or subjects beforehand, and stressed the importance of a story’s impact on people, which would provide newsworthiness. However, Markman differs from Ross in the sense that he had to write his stories quicker than she did, and he focused on many different stories every week, as opposed to an individual person, like Ross’s profile of Ernest Hemingway. These two writers had different responsibilities and styles of writing when they worked for their publications, but through their experiences, they were able to have a career in a field that they truly enjoyed and found challenging.

 “Letter from Lillian Ross, The veteran New Yorker writer’s rules of reporting.”
Rogers, Tony. "Real Reporter: Ross Markman." Newswriting on Deadline. Boston: Pearson, 2004. 80-82. .

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