Sunday, August 8, 2010

Ryan Lizza on Profile Writing

By Shaiesha Moore (Chicago, IL)

As the days come to an end, I am filled with memories. The most recent influential speaker I’ve encountered was Ryan Lizza, the Washington correspondent for The New Yorker. He wrote a profile on President Barack Obama that we read in our extensive (aka really long) reading packet.

The best part of SJP is meeting the journalists who write the articles that we enjoy reading. And luckily, Ryan Lizza was one of those journalists. When he gave his workshop, he talked about the difficulties of profiling people and even conducting interviews with public officials. It was ironic, because right before the workshop I was trying to have a phone interview with a public official in Princeton, for the story I was working on for The Princeton Summer Journal. When I called to interview the official for my story, she was very rude and did not give me any relevant information; nor did our conversation last longer than 30 seconds.

As a result, I was kind of discouraged, and as Mr. Lizza put it, I had a personal “vendetta” against her. But, when I asked Ryan about his experiences, he said being blown off by public officials and other people is just part of the job as a journalist. He also gave me advice about how to handle people like that. After his words of encouragement, I was no longer discouraged, but I actually felt motivated.

Meeting Ryan Lizza from The New Yorker, is just another memory that I will add to the memories that have started from the moment I stepped foot on Princeton.

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