Class of 1972
It was more than a few years ago, but Michele Ingrassia remembers the moment with total clarity.
“I was probably only 12 when I went on a class trip to The New York Times,” she recalls. “Walking through the press room, with its clanging, banging machinery, I was instantly smitten.”
By the time she arrived at City College, her path was as clear as that memory. It didn’t take long for her to present herself at the office of The Campus and announce that she wanted to be part of it. In time, she was a big part of it, first as the publication’s features editor, and then as its managing editor.
Since graduation, in 1972, it was on to full-time editorial work as a professional, at daily newspapers, magazines and, more recently, online. Ingrassia has been a reporter and editor at Newsday, Newsweek and The New York Daily News, covering everything from fashion to domestic violence, from local and national politics to profiles of top personalities. She has also been a contributing editor at AOL’s Stylelist.com and has written pieces for The Times.
She had two stretches at Newsday, first from 1974 to 1993, then from 1996 to 2000. As a feature writer, she specialized in articles about social change, focusing on issues from AIDS to abortion to the aging of the baby boomers. She also profiled presidential candidates and would-be first ladies and was Newsday’s fashion editor, covering the New York and European ready-to-wear markets.
Between the two Newsday stints, she joined Newsweek as a general editor and was there from 1993 to 1995. Ingrassia worked on articles examining the forces that were then reshaping the American family, but her best-known piece was about a child who was literally like no other: Assigned to interview the young author of a new book entitled “A Rock and a Hard Place,” she was instrumental in uncovering a literary hoax involving what she describes as “a nonexistent 11-year-old whose Dickensian tale of abuse, neglect and AIDS were so persuasive that ‘he’ attracted Fred Rogers and Oprah Winfrey into his web.”
Returning to Newsday, she took on the style beat in all its forms, covering Prince Charles and Princess Diana when they were among the biggest celebrities on the planet and profiling such fashion industry leaders as Harper’s Bazaar editor Liz Tilberis and her campaign to raise awareness of ovarian cancer, the disease that eventually took her life.
From 2000 to 2006, Ingrassia was a writer at The Daily News. She lists among her favorite News pieces an article on the cultural impact of the Wonderbra, the attention-getting push-up bra that poked its way into international prominence in the 1990s. Another favorite: A peek into the lives of a quartet of apparel designers she dubbed “The Rolling Stones of Fashion”: Oscar de la Renta, Ralph Lauren, Giorgio Armani and Karl Lagerfeld.