Every month we tell you a little bit about the men and women who we assign to write articles and snap photographs for us. And every month, it is Associate Editor Marisa LaScala who interviews our writers and photographers to introduce them to you. So here, I turn over the editor’s memo to Marisa to tell you what she learns month after month writing about our writers and photographers. Here is what she had to say:
I think of the Contributors Page as being akin to the bonus material on a DVD. The article is the main feature, but it’s nice to get some behind-the-scenes “making of” information about who and what goes into the creative process.
Most of the time, our writers and photographers are more than willing to pull back the curtain—writers more so than photographers. While photographers oftentimes give succinct, bare-bones answers to my questions—they work with images, after all, not words—writers are more likely to talk. And talk. And talk. They’re eager to tell me about
the little things they noticed while doing their research.
Most of the time, however, it’s these details that get excised from the final article, or
never make it into the first draft because they just don’t fit. The Contributors Page often gets to rescue these characterizations. Sometimes, though, we can’t even print what the writers and photographers tell us on the Contributors Page. “How did it go?” I asked one contributor. “The interview did not go as smoothly as I had hoped,” the writer responded. “I kept trying to bring him back on point without being rude, but he constantly trailed off into details that readers would neither comprehend nor find interesting. Very frustrating.”
Other times, I find out the article underwent a complete transformation during the writing process. “Did anything interesting happen during your research?” I asked writer Ann J. Loftin, who had just turned in a piece about Manhattanville College President Richard Berman for our November issue. “What happened while I was writing the piece,” she said casually, “was that he fired his number two person, resulting in a faculty revolt, student protest, and an emergency meeting of the board. So I got an earful from the faculty about him.”
Most of the time, though, we hear great things from our contributors. After writing about great places to walk in Westchester County, which also ran in November, writer Kristina Berlin raved about Blue Hill at Stone Barns to her boyfriend—who then took her to a romantic dinner there and proposed. This month, Diane Weintraub Pohl found out that hotshot chefs don’t have to come with a side order of attitude (see page 82). Also on the food front, Senior Creative Director Trish Gogarty and photographer Phil Mansfield got treated to a multi-course gourmet feast when they went to photograph 42, the new restaurant on the top floor of the Ritz Carlton,
The next day, Trish recounted how she and Phil felt that after some five ultra-rich courses there was no way they could eat dessert. But, she said, 42’s chef insisted. “I ate every bite and some of Phil’s dessert as well,” she said. “It was so good.”
And then there are those writers who are hard to track down, and take a million calls before they’ll speak to me for the Contributors Page. I curse them until I get them on the phone and realize that they were out, already researching their next assignments.