Happy Narrative New Year! If you resolved to get better at narrative in 2016, or even just to figure out what it is, here’s a list of conferences and workshops where you can listen, learn and network. From the practical to the inspirational, these events offer something for journalists looking to improve their storytelling, no matter the medium or the format. Some of these events are still taking shape; check back over the year to see who’s been added to speaker lists and get other updates.
“The Power of Narrative: Staying Savvy, Skilled, and Solvent in Journalism’s Wired Era”
Speakers at this year’s edition of the longest-running narrative journalism confab include Gay Talese, one of the pioneers of modern narrative journalism, Mary Roach, a science writer whose books include four New York Times bestsellers, among them “Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers” and “Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex,” directors of The Moth storytelling juggernaut and Brian McGrory, editor of The Boston Globe. Here’s the full list.
Registration is open, with rates of $50 for BU students, $150 for BU alumni and non-BU students, and tiered pricing of $275 until January 22nd, $325 between January 23rd and February 29th, and $375 afterwards. Our coverage of last year’s conference can be found here and here.
Conference on Narrative Journalism, Amsterdam: “Storytelling in the Digital Age”
Initiative for Narrative Journalism in the Netherlands
This year’s conference features its first ever curator, Amy O’Leary, the former “This American Life” and New York Times journalist who is now editorial director of Upworthy. Other speakers include data journalist John Keefe, Radiotopia executive producer Julie Shapiro, digital storyteller Lam Thuy Vo and the prominent Dutch journalist and author Linda Polman. There will again be a day of master classes and coaching after the conference itself, including from BU conference founder and director Mark Kramer. This year the conference fee is 125 euros, or 75 euros for “friends” of the foundation (it costs 35 euros a year to be a friend). A master class will cost an additional 80 euros, or 65 euros for friends of the foundation.
“River Teeth Nonfiction Conference”
This five-year-old conference focuses on memoir, essays and literary journalism. It mixes manuscript consultation, speaker presentations and seminars. Featured speakers this year are the essayists Dinty W. Moore and Elena Passarello. Registrants must submit a 10-page, double-spaced writing sample and a 500-word statement of interest in the conference. The conference costs $425, with a $50 discount to those who register by April 15. There is also a $50 student discount. Attendees can also receive a 30-minute consultation on essays of up to 25 pages for an additional $50, and a one-hour consultation on a book-length manuscript for $300.
“THREAD at Yale: Storytelling in Modern Media”
Yale Journalism Initiative
New Haven, Connecticut
In its second year, THREAD at Yale continues with its combination of conference-style lectures and workshop-style small group work sessions and informal evening discussions with the program mentors. This year’s mentors are not yet listed on the web site, but among last year’s were The New York Times Magazine’s Emily Bazelon; Catherine Burns, Artistic Director at “The Moth;” author, journalist, and radio producer Jake Halpern; and New Yorker staff writer Sarah Stillman. Attendees must apply and be accepted, though no qualifications are specified other than enthusiasm and being over 21. Potential attendees must fill out a short online application, which, like taxes, is due April 15. Tuition for THREAD at Yale is $1,750 for program materials only, or $1,995 for program materials, housing at Yale, and breakfast.
“Crafting the True Story: An Exploration of Creative Nonfiction”
Madeline Island School of the Arts
La Pointe, Wisconsin
Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Jacqui Banaszynski leads an immersive workshop to help writers of all ability levels develop and shape narrative nonfiction (though the lessons also apply to fiction and memoir writers, and even corporate communications writers). In addition to completing fieldwork, in-class exercises, and peer critique, participants will work one-on-one with Banaszynski to develop a work-in-progress and build a plan for future writing. Tuition is $600 for the week. Lodging and food is separate.
Mayborn Literary Nonfiction Conference
Frank W. & Sue Mayborn School of Journalism
University of North Texas
The 12th year of the Mayborn conference coincides with the 100th anniversary of the Pulitzer Prizes, and those will be the theme of this year’s event. Featured speakers include Gilbert King, Sheryl WuDunn and Margo Jefferson. King won the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction for his book “Devil in the Grove,” Jefferson the 1995 Pulitzer Prize for Criticism, and WuDunn the 1990 Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting, along with her husband, Nicholas Kristof. Find a story about a Pulitzer-related talk as well as other links to our coverage of last year’s conference here. The conference also features the annual announcement of winners for several writing contests. The conference costs $425, with a discount for those who register by May 1.
International Course on Narrative Journalism
Radio Netherlands Training Centre
Hilversum, the Netherlands
The RNTC is offering this two-week training for “experienced journalists” working in any medium. The session is led by Turan Ali, RNTC’s director and a long-time producer of BBC shows. The price of 3,099 euros includes lodging, meals, travel for assignments, insurance and certain other costs.
Narrative at Cal
Graduate School of Journalism
Last year’s second annual conference, limited to 80 experienced writers, sold out. Keynoters were Douglas McGray, founder of The California Sunday Magazine and Pop-Up Magazine, the historian and activist Rebecca Solnit and Julia Turner, Slate’s editor-in-chief. Admission last year cost $275, which covered lectures, workshops and panels. An extra day of master classes cost $50 more. Read a Q&A with Constance Hale (who ran the former Nieman Conference on Narrative Journalism) on the vision for the conference here.
Third Coast Conference
“The Power of Storytelling”
Sponsored by Decât o Revista
“Dare to Wander” is the theme of this year’s conference, with Cheryl Strayed, Jon Mooallem and The Decemberists songwriter Colin Meloy among the speakers. Find stories and links about last year’s conference here and here.
Other conferences of note:
- ASJA Annual Writers Conference, New York, April 20-21.
- Literary Journalism: Telling the Untold Stories, The International Association for Literary Journalism Studies’ annual conference, May 19-21 in Porto Alegre, Brazil.
- Creative Nonfiction Writers Conference, Pittsburgh, May 27-29.
- The Jackson Hole Writers Conference, which includes a creative nonfiction track, June 23-25.
- Excellence in Journalism 2016, New Orleans, Sept. 18-20.
And to get a head start on next year:
“True Story: The Art and Craft of Creative Nonfiction”
January 9-13, 2017
Tanque Verde Ranch, Arizona
Each year, Jacqui Banaszynski, a Pulitzer Prize winner and an endowed Knight Chair professor at the Missouri School of Journalism, teaches a writing workshop through the Madeline Island School of the Arts. As she describes it, “This immersive workshop explores techniques that weave literary creativity into true stories. Ideal for anyone who writes narrative non-fiction, memoir or wants to make institutional, technical or specialized writing more accessible.”
Let us know if we’ve missed one you think should be on the list.