Tuesday, February 24, 2015
Learning from Lillian Ross
By Michael Ryder
Lillian Ross, a journalist who worked for The New Yorker for decades, has developed her own set of guidelines for writing after being in the industry for many years. She has strong opinions regarding some of the tactics that other journalists use and continues to follow her own set of rules or “principles.”
One of Ross’ guidelines that I disagree with is never writing about something that doesn’t appeal to you. It is the responsibility of the journalist to report on a story so that the public can be aware. There may be an issue that the public should know about and the journalist is in charge of delivering that information. Even if the story is not appealing to the writer, they should give it their all to give the public an interesting, informative piece. I also disagree with Ross when she says she would never write about anyone she doesn’t like. There is no place for bias in journalism and personal opinions on someone shouldn’t interfere with one’s writing.
Ross, however, had many guidelines I did agree with. In journalism, I agree that there shouldn’t be any ambiguity and the story you are writing should be to the point and straightforward. Ross also stated that she wouldn’t take on an assignment just for pay. I think this is an interesting guideline, as it shows that Ross truly cares about her work and her writing and thinks of the money second. Nowadays, it seems many people simply do things just for the compensation.
I also agree with Lillian Ross when she talks about taking notes in small notebooks for her writings. I find taking notes to be extremely helpful in remembering the little details about things, as we have so much going on all the time that it’s easy to forget some things.
Lillian Ross’ long career is proof that her guidelines to writing are effective and really make a difference. Although some of her guidelines are debatable, she has stuck to what works for her and it has proven to be successful.