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Occasionally I interviewed a celebrity for a profile to tie in with their latest project.
I was usually instructed to keep my questions to a specific, previously agreed upon subject, and the answers they gave me were as generic as a politician’s. The first time I tried “real” reporting, I knew almost immediately that I was in over my head.
At the time, writing and what I thought of as “reporting” did not necessarily go together, which worked for me.
I wasn’t terribly comfortable talking to people I didn’t know.
Fortunately, Two years later, I went to journalism school and was introduced to the value of “shoe-leather” reporting.It didn’t matter if the people I was interviewing were forthcoming, I felt like I was intruding.She begged me to stop the story and I told her the truth: I had absolutely no power to do that.The writing was what I enjoyed, so I stuck mostly to that through college, continuing my path as a reviewer, opinion columnist, and arts editor.I tried news only a handful of times, and each time I was petrified.Or it might have included the fact that although the school made his schedule available, presumably for anyone who wanted to avoid him, the woman at the registrar’s office told me I was the only person who’d asked. I got easy As in English and was on the speech and debate team.But that whole truth would have complicated things. My dad was a lawyer, and he liked to argue, so I argued with him. At the high school newspaper, I wrote op-eds about Valentine’s Day and affirmative action and I reviewed REM’s latest album.It was 2004, and a friend at magazine asked if I would go to Birmingham, Alabama to write an article about a 12-year-old girl who had been killed by her mother.I accepted the assignment because it interested me—I’d long been fascinated by crime—but once I got to Birmingham, it took me 40 minutes to build up the courage to ring the bell at the house next door to where the crime had occurred.I knew the market in New York City was tough, but my life was there, so I put in applications at probably half a dozen newspapers.A friend wrote about real estate at the and told me they were hiring on the city desk.