This weekend, The New York Times began running a five-part series from reporter David Rohde, who was kidnapped in Afghanistan in 2008 and remained in captivity for seven months and 10 days. In “Held by the Taliban,” Rohde uses … Read more
[The first in an occasional series aimed at helping readers find other online resources that focus on narrative journalism.]
Plenty of people are worried about the future of long-form journalism. Not Mark Armstrong. In April of this year, Armstrong started a “longreads” hashtag on Twitter in an attempt to create a community of people who could find and recommend great long-form stories available online. I spoke with him today, and he shared what motivated him to find a Twitter fan base for great online narratives:
“I think right now is really a perfect time for long-form journalism because of the iPhone, because of these apps that are out there. It’s changed the online reading experience to going from little nuggets that you consume between doing other tasks to something you can sit back with to read in a relaxed setting or on a commute. These are really the places where long-form journalism can work.”
Providing this kind of archive has been a part of the mission of our sister site, the Nieman Narrative Digest, and online stalwarts like Gangrey.com for more than three years. And here at Nieman Storyboard, we want to cheer on anything that keeps the narrative nonfiction flame burning. So even if you don’t use Twitter, visit @longreads to find links to stories people are recommending.
Read the full interview » Read more
Last Sunday’s New York Times Magazine included a personal essay from novelist Jonathan Safran Foer, “Against Meat,” which recounts his struggles with whether or not to eat (or teach his child to eat) other creatures. As I started … Read more
Current Nieman fellow Hopewell Rugoho-Chin’ono recently pointed out this striking TED talk from July, in which Nigerian novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie speaks on the danger of letting one narrative define other people or places. Adichie describes her own … Read more
Some events cry out for narrative treatment. Take a look at this wire story about a St. Louis Cardinal fan injured in Pittsburgh and the assist he got from player Albert Pujols. And then read Todd Frankel’s “St. Louis Cardinals fan feels uplifted after fall,” which ran a month later in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
No one assigned the piece to Frankel, but he had watched the game on television that Friday and suspected there might be more to the story. By the following Monday, he still hadn’t seen any new information from beat reporters, so he spent a week getting the Pirates public relations staff to find out if the fan, Tim Tepas, was willing to be interviewed.
Tepas initially agreed to a five-minute conversation. But across several days, five minutes turned into five hours. And it was only at the end, Frankel reports, that Tepas mentioned the letter he had with him the night of his injury.
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Between following firefighters in Washington’s Methow Valley and the semi-nomadic Sami reindeer herders of Norway, Sara Joy Steele and Benjamin Drummond are putting together some innovative chapters in their large-scale documentary project Facing Climate Change, in which … Read more
Last week, the USC Annenberg School on Communications and the National Arts Journalism Program hosted a National Summit on Arts Journalism at USC, highlighting five public projects that are exploring new trends in journalism. One of the … Read more
A doctor gets shingles and finds himself unable to refuse unnecessary tests. A student in need of a kidney transplant gets offers of marriage, with free health care attached. A national news celebrity struggles … Read more
Yesterday, The Harvard Crimson posted a fascinating article about the power of storytelling. Neal Baer, executive producer of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, spoke at a Radcliffe event titled “Telling Tales: How Stories Can Make a Difference.” The … Read more
Today we offer the second installment of a two-part look at narrative nonfiction from Granta’s summer issue. I spoke with author Mary Gaitskill about “Lost Cat,” her memoir on the disappearance of an adopted pet, and how she connected the loss to other events in her life.
On the topic of using the piece to examine her own motives, she says, “I think that one’s own motives are interesting. Everybody’s motives are interesting… True feeling is often hidden under superficial or more attractive feelings; selfish motives are often wound up with truly altruistic ones.”
She references the Grace Paley adage about fiction being a lie you tell to get to a bigger truth, and talks about the difference between writing fiction and nonfiction. Fiction, she says, “is a lie if you believe it literally. It’s a story that didn’t happen, but it illuminates the idea. I express myself much more plainly or directly with nonfiction. With fiction, I am largely speaking the language of metaphor, which people frequently mistake for literal communication.”
Read the full interview. Read more