Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Lillian Ross: Stay True to the Truth and Ourselves

By Nicolette Danzy

From reading about Lillian Ross, I learned that the most important part in reporting for a feature story is to be honest and to care about what you are writing. In the NPR interview of Ross, she emphasizes that every writer is different. Diversity, creativity, and passion are the essentials that I learned from Lillian Ross in order to be a journalist.

In the Letter From Lillian Ross, the long-time New Yorker writer sets down her guidelines to writing. One of the guidelines that I felt was the most important and essential was, “I choose to write only about people, situations, and events that appeal to me. Every editor I’ve worked with believed, as I did, that the only reason to write a story – especially a story about a person – was to shed some light on what that individual is in relation to the work he does.” 

I thought this was important because she is telling us that we should write about what we are actually interested in. When you write about something you like or are passionate about, your writing comes out better, because you put more heart and effort into it. Also I liked when Ross said, “I resist taking a writing assignment for financial reasons. Earning money is often mentioned as a way to ‘free you to do what you want to do later on.' One certain way of blocking you from doing what you want to do is to do something else now for the money alone.” I believed this was the most important line because she is telling us that we shouldn’t be writing just for the money.

Another lesson that Lillian Ross taught me was to create a relationship with the person you are interviewing. The questions and conversation that you are making while you are interviewing your subject should be intimate enough that you really get to know this person and a friendship or bond will form. She says “A friend is not to be used and abandoned. A friendship established in writing about someone often continues to grow after a piece of writing is published.” Her friendship with Hemingway that she speaks about in her interview is an example of the relationships that journalism forms.

From Lillian Ross’s interview with NPR, I learned some very important guidelines and tips. She told us that we should stay true to ourselves in writing and choosing our topics. Establish a relationship with the person you are interviewing and the writing will be that much better, and always stay passionate about your writing.

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