What Really Goes into Reporting a 10,000-Word Story?


In October of 2014, Los Angeles published the story A Mobster, a Murder, and a Moll With a Secret, presenting a new lead in the cold case of gangster Bugsy Siegel’s murder. But long before the story ever made it to print, editor-at-large Amy Wallace had to sell the pitch—the never-before-heard theory of a 71-year-old realtor whose mother had ties to Siegel and the mob—to editor-in-chief Mary Melton. And then there was the long and arduous reporting process with hurdles of its own, including Wallace’s key source passing away in the middle of her investigation.

Last week, Wallace and Melton traveled to the University of Missouri for the school’s Writers and Editors: The Most Dynamic Relationship in Journalism conference, where they (alongside a slew of talented colleagues from publications including GQ and Esquire) dissected the writer/editor relationship and broke down exactly how much work is required to pull off a feature story of A Mobster, a Murder, and a Moll With a Secret’s magnitude. Since we couldn’t offer you a seat inside of the auditorium, we’ll give you the next best thing: a video of the duo’s presentation. Watch below and tell us what surprised you in the comments.